How to Find the Right HVAC Training Class near Homewood Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Homewood AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion 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 tackle how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Homewood AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, 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 wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Homewood AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 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 ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Homewood 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 Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Homewood AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Homewood 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 career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Homewood AL area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Homewood AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 alumni, which can result in 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Homewood AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Homewood AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job 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 instructed 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, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Homewood AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Homewood AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Homewood AL, check that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Homewood AL.