How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Madison Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Madison AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Madison AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Madison AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, some 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 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 ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Madison AL, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Madison AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Madison and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Madison AL area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Madison AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, 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 program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Madison AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Madison AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Madison AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Madison AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training 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 observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down 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.