How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling School near Gadsden Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Gadsden AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Gadsden AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained 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. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Gadsden AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Gadsden AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Gadsden AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Gadsden and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. 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 little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Gadsden AL area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Gadsden AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, 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 validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Gadsden AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Gadsden AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Gadsden AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Gadsden AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gadsden AL, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Learn More About Gadsden Heating and Cooling Training Classes Near You
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Gadsden AL.