How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class near Homewood Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Homewood AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some 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 criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Homewood AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Homewood AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, some degrees incorporate 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Homewood AL, later going back to earn 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 Schools Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Homewood AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Homewood and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Homewood AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Homewood AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, 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 a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Homewood AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Homewood AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Homewood AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Homewood AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Homewood AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk 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 night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Homewood AL.