How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Training near Homewood Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Homewood AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Homewood AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually completed in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Homewood AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Homewood AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Homewood AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Homewood and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Homewood AL area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Homewood AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Homewood AL HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Homewood AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Homewood AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Homewood AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Homewood AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Homewood AL.