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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling College near Trussville Alabama

Trussville Alabama home A/C condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Trussville AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors 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 in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

Trussville Alabama Heating and Cooling Technician repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Trussville AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. 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 makes available 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 must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with 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 may be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

Trussville Alabama residential heating pump

There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Trussville AL.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Trussville AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Trussville AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Trussville and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Schools

Trussville Alabama Heating and Cooling technician installing water heater

As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Trussville AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Trussville AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate 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 of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but also that it has the network of Trussville AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Trussville AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Trussville AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Trussville AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Trussville AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Trussville HVAC Schools Near You

Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should choose 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 things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Trussville AL.