How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Foley Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Foley AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Foley AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three 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 earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description 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 specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Foley AL, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Foley AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Foley and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Foley AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools 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 pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Foley AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Foley AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Foley AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Foley AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Foley AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Foley AL.