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How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Class near Mountain Brook Alabama

Mountain Brook Alabama home air conditioning condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Mountain Brook AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things 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 additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

Mountain Brook Alabama Heating and Cooling Contractor repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Mountain Brook AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can 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 together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, 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 obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Schools

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There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Mountain Brook 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 employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Mountain Brook AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure 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 option to attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Mountain Brook AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Mountain Brook and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Certification Classes

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When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Mountain Brook AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade programs in the Mountain Brook AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at 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 suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean 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 a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Mountain Brook AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Mountain Brook AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Mountain Brook AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Mountain Brook AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with 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 programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Mountain Brook HVAC Training Classes Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening 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 assessing 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 professional in Mountain Brook AL.