How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Class near Foley Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Foley AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Foley AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train 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 advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Foley AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, many 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Foley AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Foley AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Foley and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Foley AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Foley AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of 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 lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Foley AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along 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 businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Foley AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Foley AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, 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 one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Foley AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should visit 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Foley AL.