How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Millbrook Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Millbrook AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Millbrook AL HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be received 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 must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction 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 lesser period of time, typically completed in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Millbrook AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, some degrees incorporate 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 four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations 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 getting some experience in the trade in Millbrook AL, later going back to earn 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 Schools
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining 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 balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Millbrook AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Millbrook and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education 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, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Millbrook AL area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Millbrook AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Millbrook AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Millbrook AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Millbrook AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Millbrook AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Millbrook AL, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if 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 proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Millbrook AL.