How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Hueytown Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Hueytown AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Hueytown AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of 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 minimum amount of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Hueytown AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Hueytown AL, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Hueytown AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Hueytown and study supplies may be lessened, 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 obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like 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 Hueytown AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Hueytown AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Hueytown AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Hueytown AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Hueytown AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Hueytown AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Hueytown AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether 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 proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Hueytown AL.