How to Choose the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Hueytown Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Hueytown AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some future students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Hueytown AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Hueytown AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial 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 extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Hueytown AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Hueytown AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Hueytown and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Hueytown AL area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Hueytown AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 lower completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Hueytown AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Hueytown AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Hueytown AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally 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 can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hueytown AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Hueytown AL.