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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Foley Alabama

Foley Alabama home air conditioning condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Foley AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

Foley Alabama Heating and Cooling Tech repairing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Foley AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Foley Alabama home heat pump

There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Foley AL.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Foley AL, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Foley AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Foley and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

Questions For HVAC Certification Courses

Foley Alabama HVAC technician servicing water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Foley AL area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Foley AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Foley AL HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Foley AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Foley AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Foley AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Foley AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Foley Heating and Cooling Trade Schools Near You

Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification

Selecting the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Foley AL.