How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Hueytown Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Hueytown AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation 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 pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Hueytown AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick 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 pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Hueytown AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning 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 comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 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.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Hueytown AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Hueytown AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Hueytown and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Hueytown AL area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Hueytown AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent 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 broader list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can 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 help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Hueytown AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Hueytown AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Hueytown 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 fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with 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 are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hueytown AL, check that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Learn More About Hueytown Heating and Cooling Schools Near You
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night 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 right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options 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.