How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Tillmans Corner Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Tillmans Corner AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details 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. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Tillmans Corner AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive 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 very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Tillmans Corner AL, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Tillmans Corner AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Tillmans Corner and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Tillmans Corner AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Tillmans Corner AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Tillmans Corner AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Tillmans Corner AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Tillmans Corner AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Tillmans Corner 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 receive as much personalized 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 witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Tillmans Corner AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be 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 due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should 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 look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Tillmans Corner AL.