How to Enroll In the Right HVAC School near Phenix City Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Phenix City AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation 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 within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Phenix City AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and may 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train 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 extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Phenix City AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally 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 tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Phenix City AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Phenix City AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Phenix City and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited 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
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Phenix City AL area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Phenix City AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Phenix City AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Phenix City AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Phenix City AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Phenix City AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Learn More About Phenix City HVAC Training Programs Near You
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. 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 trade. Other factors to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Phenix City AL.