How to Enroll In the Right HVAC School near Talladega Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Talladega AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors 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. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Talladega AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the significant 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 can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, typically achieved in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Talladega AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Talladega AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Talladega AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Talladega and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Talladega AL area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Talladega AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Talladega AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Talladega AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job 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 using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Talladega AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Talladega AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few 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 relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with 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 schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Talladega AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Talladega AL.