How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Troy Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Troy AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Troy AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field 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 exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Troy AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 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 ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Troy AL, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Troy AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Troy and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools 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 schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Troy AL area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Troy AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Troy AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most 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 within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Troy AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Troy AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Troy AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Troy AL, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should select 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 things 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 explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available 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 evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Troy AL.