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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling College near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Troy AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Tech

Troy Alabama HVAC Tech inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Troy AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the significant 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, 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 wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Troy Alabama residential heat pump

There are a variety 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 completed in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might 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 Troy AL.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together 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 acquiring some experience in the trade in Troy AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer 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 convenient solution for some Troy AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Troy and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Troy Alabama HVAC tech replacing water heater

Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Troy AL area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Troy AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Troy AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Troy AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Troy AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Troy AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers 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 evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Troy AL, check that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. 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 because of work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Troy Heating and Cooling Programs Near You

Get Your HVAC Training and Certification

Finding the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Troy AL.