How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Training near Trussville Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Trussville AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry 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 every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Trussville AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few 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 competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, 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 desire to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify 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 for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Trussville AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Trussville AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one option in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all 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 as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Trussville AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Trussville and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Trussville AL area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Trussville AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also suggest 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 broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Trussville AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Trussville AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area 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 using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Trussville AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Trussville AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend 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 part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and 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 profession. Other features to search for are plenty of 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 talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Trussville AL.