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

Hueytown Alabama residential air conditioning condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Hueytown AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Specialist

Hueytown Alabama Heating and Cooling Contractor repairing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Hueytown AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools

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There are a variety of alternatives available 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, typically completed in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Hueytown AL.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 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 traditional 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 based on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Hueytown AL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical 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 can be participated in online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Hueytown AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Hueytown and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Training Classes

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Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Hueytown AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Hueytown AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Hueytown AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire 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 schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Hueytown AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Hueytown AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Hueytown AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, 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.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Hueytown AL, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Hueytown HVAC Programs Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should select 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 factors to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Hueytown AL.