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How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Course near Talladega Alabama

Talladega Alabama home air conditioning condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Talladega AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Contractor

Talladega Alabama HVAC Tech servicing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Talladega AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency 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 examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Talladega Alabama home heat pump

There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, however 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 training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Talladega AL.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards 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 mastering 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 goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Talladega AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach in obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Talladega AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Talladega and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many 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 online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Training Classes

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As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Talladega AL area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Talladega AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at 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 might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Talladega AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Talladega AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Talladega AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Talladega AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much personalized training 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 students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Talladega AL, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Talladega HVAC Trade Schools Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Selecting the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk 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 choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down 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 Talladega AL.