How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Montgomery AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
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, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Montgomery AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Montgomery AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four 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 long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Montgomery AL, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many 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 approach may be a more practical solution for many Montgomery AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Montgomery and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Montgomery AL area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Montgomery AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Montgomery AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Montgomery AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Montgomery AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Montgomery AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized 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 teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Montgomery AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Montgomery AL.