How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Tillmans Corner Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Tillmans Corner AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details that you need to investigate 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Tillmans Corner AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. 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 available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train 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 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Tillmans Corner AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, some 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based 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 perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Tillmans Corner AL, later going back to earn 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 Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Tillmans Corner AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Tillmans Corner and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. 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 limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Tillmans Corner AL area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Tillmans Corner AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is 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 obtain a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also signify 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 alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Tillmans Corner AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Tillmans Corner AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Tillmans Corner AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Tillmans Corner AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak 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, verify that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Tillmans Corner AL.