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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Millbrook Alabama

Millbrook Alabama home A/C condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Millbrook AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Technician

Millbrook Alabama HVAC Technician fixing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Millbrook AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can 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 examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians 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.

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

HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools

Millbrook Alabama residential heat pump

There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Millbrook AL.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Millbrook AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Choosing an HVAC school online is one option to getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Millbrook AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Millbrook and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Millbrook Alabama HVAC contractor servicing water heater

Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Millbrook AL area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Millbrook AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering 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 might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate 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 list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Millbrook AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Millbrook AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Millbrook AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Millbrook AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers 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 schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Millbrook AL, check that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Millbrook HVAC Courses Near You

Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification

Picking the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally 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. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Millbrook AL.