How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Hoover Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Hoover AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
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, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Hoover AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the significant 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other 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 imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically completed in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Hoover AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Hoover AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Hoover AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Hoover and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Hoover AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Hoover AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Hoover AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Hoover AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Hoover AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Hoover AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Hoover AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Hoover AL.