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How to Choose the Right HVAC Training Program near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City Alabama residential A/C condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Phenix City AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details 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. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Professional

Phenix City Alabama Heating and Cooling Tech inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Phenix City AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be acquired 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 needed 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 provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with 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 may be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Phenix City Alabama residential heating pump

There are a variety of choices available 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, often accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish 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 very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Phenix City AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining 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 offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Phenix City AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Phenix City and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.

Questions For HVAC Certification Courses

Phenix City Alabama Heating and Cooling technician replacing water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Phenix City AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Phenix City AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to use 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 field, but also that it has the network of Phenix City AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Phenix City AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Phenix City AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Phenix City AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers 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 schools 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, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Phenix City HVAC Training Programs In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Picking the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally 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. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate 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 appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Phenix City AL.