How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Princeton Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Princeton AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Princeton AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized 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 earned by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important 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 select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Princeton AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 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 ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Princeton AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for some Princeton AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Princeton and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Princeton AL area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Princeton AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also mean 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 directory of alumni, 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Princeton AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Princeton AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Princeton AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Princeton AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Princeton AL, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist 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 dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Princeton AL.