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How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Hoover Alabama

Hoover Alabama home A/C condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Hoover AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things 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. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

Hoover Alabama Heating and Cooling Contractor fixing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business 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 skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Hoover AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various 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.

Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Hoover Alabama home heat pump

There are several options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Hoover AL.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Hoover AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many 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 attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Hoover AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Hoover and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.

Questions For HVAC Schools

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When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Hoover AL area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Hoover AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Hoover AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Hoover AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment 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, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Hoover AL HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Hoover AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hoover AL, check that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Hoover Heating and Cooling Training Classes Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Finding the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, 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 too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Hoover AL.