How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Training near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Montgomery AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things 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 benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Montgomery AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
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 lesser period of time, often achieved 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 appropriate 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 option offered near Montgomery AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, a number of 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 conventional 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.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Montgomery AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Montgomery AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Montgomery and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling 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, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Montgomery AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Montgomery AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also signify 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 directory of alumni, which may produce 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Montgomery AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Montgomery AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Montgomery AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Montgomery AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out 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 handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Montgomery AL, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Montgomery AL.