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How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Degree Program near Madison Alabama

Madison Alabama residential A/C condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Madison AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just 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. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Specialist

Madison Alabama HVAC Technician fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Madison AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

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There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Madison AL.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for 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 learn how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Madison AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Madison AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Madison and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

Questions For HVAC Training Programs

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As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Madison AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important 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 need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical schools in the Madison AL area have earned 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 relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean 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 a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Madison AL HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Madison AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Madison AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Madison AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much one-on-one 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 big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Madison AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Madison Heating and Cooling Courses Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Madison AL.