How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Training Class near Selma Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Selma AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot 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. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Selma AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few 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 examination and can be received 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually completed in just six months, though some programs 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 might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Selma AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require 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 study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Selma AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for some Selma AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Selma and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Selma AL area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Selma AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Selma AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Selma AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Selma AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Selma AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Selma AL, confirm that the programs 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. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether night 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 detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Selma AL.