How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Class near Phenix City Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Phenix City AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Phenix City AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, 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 intend to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Phenix City AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 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 standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, along with 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 getting some experience in the trade in Phenix City AL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, 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 possibility in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Phenix City AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Phenix City and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Phenix City AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Phenix City AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, 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 complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Phenix City AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Phenix City AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus 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 regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Phenix City AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Phenix City AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience 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 fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Find Out More About Phenix City HVAC Courses In Your Area
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down 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 contractor in Phenix City AL.