How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Training near Helena Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Helena AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you require? Some potential students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Helena AL HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of alternatives offered 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 period of time, often accomplished in as little as six 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 advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Helena AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually 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 geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Helena AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some 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 accessible solution for some Helena AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Helena and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Helena AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Helena AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at 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 signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Helena AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Helena AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Helena AL HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Helena AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few 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 opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Helena AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Helena AL.