How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Montgomery AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Montgomery AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be acquired 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 three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in 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 select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually accomplished in just six months, though 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 might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Montgomery AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 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 geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Montgomery AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, 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 program online is one alternative in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Montgomery AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Montgomery and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Montgomery AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly 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. Many HVAC technical schools in the Montgomery AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Montgomery AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Montgomery AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Montgomery AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Montgomery AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, check that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Montgomery AL.