How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling School near Tillmans Corner Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Tillmans Corner AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based solely 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 evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Tillmans Corner AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field 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 score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain 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 programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Tillmans Corner AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning 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 delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, some 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking 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 approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Tillmans Corner AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Tillmans Corner AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Tillmans Corner and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Tillmans Corner AL area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. 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 should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Tillmans Corner AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing 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 might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Tillmans Corner AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Tillmans Corner AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Tillmans Corner AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Tillmans Corner AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tillmans Corner AL, check that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should 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 training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed 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 contractor in Tillmans Corner AL.