How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Program near Phenix City Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Phenix City AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion 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 examine how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Phenix City AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Phenix City AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, some 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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 right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Phenix City AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach 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 cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Phenix City and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs 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 hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Phenix City AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Phenix City AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Phenix City AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Phenix City AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Phenix City AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must 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 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a rewarding 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are sufficient 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Phenix City AL.