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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama residential A/C condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Troy AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Contractor

Troy Alabama Heating and Cooling Technician fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively 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 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 Troy AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. 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 examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools

Troy Alabama home heater

There are several options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Troy AL.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, some degrees include 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 traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study 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 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 field in Troy AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Courses

Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Troy AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Troy and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

Troy Alabama HVAC technician repairing water heater

After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Troy AL area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Troy AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Troy AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Troy AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Troy AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Troy AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 receive as much individualized 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 observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Troy AL, check that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Troy HVAC Schools Near You

Get Your HVAC Training and Certification

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour 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. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Troy AL.