How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Foley Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Foley AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Foley AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Foley AL.
- Certificate. Normally 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 employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility 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 obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also provide 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 attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for some Foley AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Foley and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Foley AL area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Foley AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Foley AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Foley AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Foley AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Foley AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Foley AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt 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 available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Foley AL.