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How to Choose the Right HVAC Training Class near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama home air conditioning condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Troy AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things 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 criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Specialist

Troy Alabama HVAC Technician fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Troy AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry 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 attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools

Troy Alabama residential heating pump

There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses 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 may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Troy AL.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Troy AL, later going back to earn 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 Training Online

Attending an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number 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 online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Troy AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Troy and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Troy Alabama HVAC technician servicing water heater

After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Troy AL area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical programs in the Troy AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Troy AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Troy AL HVAC contractors. 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.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Troy AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Troy AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much one-on-one training 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 witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback 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 have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Troy AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Troy Heating and Cooling Trade Schools Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Troy AL.