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How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Class near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City Alabama home A/C condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Phenix City AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

Phenix City Alabama HVAC Tech inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Phenix City AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree Courses

Phenix City Alabama residential heating pump

There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training 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 amount of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related 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 Phenix City AL.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, many degrees incorporate 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 standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Phenix City AL, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Phenix City AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Phenix City and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.

Questions For HVAC Schools

Phenix City Alabama HVAC contractor installing water heater

After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Phenix City AL area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade schools in the Phenix City 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 a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC 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 program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also signify that the instructors 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 graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Phenix City AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC technical programs are taught along 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 Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Phenix City AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Phenix City AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Phenix City AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback 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.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Phenix City Heating and Cooling Training Programs In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Finding the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose 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 features to look for are lots of 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. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Phenix City AL.