How to Select the Right HVAC Training Program near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Phenix City AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some 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 benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
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 air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Phenix City AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of choices offered 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 least amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Phenix City AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Phenix City AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also sponsor 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 attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Phenix City AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Phenix City and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Phenix City AL area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Phenix City AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also signify 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate 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 students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous 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 inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Phenix City AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Phenix City AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Phenix City AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill 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 looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Phenix City AL.