How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Prattville Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Prattville AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice 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 take into account. Some of the other things 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Prattville AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some 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 examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam 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 exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training 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 lesser amount of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Prattville AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require 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.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Prattville AL, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on 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 attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Prattville AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Prattville and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Prattville AL area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Prattville AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Prattville AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Prattville AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently 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 Prattville AL HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Prattville AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Learn More About Prattville HVAC Programs Near You
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Prattville AL.