How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Class near Princeton Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Princeton AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Princeton AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train 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 provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Princeton AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Princeton AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Princeton AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Princeton and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many 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 HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Princeton AL area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Princeton AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training course 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Princeton AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Princeton AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Princeton AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Princeton AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Princeton AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed 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 field. Other features to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Princeton AL.