How to Find the Right HVAC Training Class near Trussville Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Trussville AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors 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 criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Trussville AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many 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 techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Trussville AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature 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 traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Trussville AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Trussville AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Trussville and study materials may 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 obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Trussville AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Trussville AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher 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 use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Trussville AL HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Trussville AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Trussville AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Trussville AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult 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 instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Trussville AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. 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 field. Other things to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit 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 training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Trussville AL.