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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Hueytown Alabama

Hueytown Alabama home A/C condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Hueytown AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things 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. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

Hueytown Alabama Heating and Cooling Technician servicing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Hueytown AL HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Hueytown Alabama residential heating pump

There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Hueytown AL.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Hueytown AL, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Hueytown AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Hueytown and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Hueytown Alabama HVAC tech installing water heater

As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Hueytown AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Hueytown AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 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 could also mean 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 list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Hueytown AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Hueytown AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Hueytown AL HVAC company if they can give you some tips. 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 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 personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Hueytown AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Hueytown HVAC Programs Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Finding the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating 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 technician in Hueytown AL.