How to Select the Right HVAC Program near Troy Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Troy AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details 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 additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Troy AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to 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 necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, 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 intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Troy AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, many 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 conventional four 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 ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. 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, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Troy AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Troy and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited 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
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Troy AL area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Troy AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm 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 ensure that you acquire a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train 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 alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Troy AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Troy AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain 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, 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 suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to 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, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Troy AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Finding the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Troy AL.