How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Troy Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Troy AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation completion 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 in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs 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 typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Troy AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options 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 lesser amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Troy AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option 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 earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor 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 accessible solution for many Troy AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Troy and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Troy AL area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Troy AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Troy AL HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Troy AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Troy AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Troy AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm 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, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make 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 HVAC Courses Near You
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered 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 trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Troy AL.