How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Vestavia Hills AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you require? Some future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Vestavia Hills AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can be received 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 examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential 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 program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Vestavia Hills AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial 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 & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees feature 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 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Vestavia Hills AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Vestavia Hills AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Vestavia Hills and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools 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 less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Vestavia Hills AL area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Vestavia Hills AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but also that it has the network of Vestavia Hills AL HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Vestavia Hills AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Vestavia Hills AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Vestavia Hills AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees 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 sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should select 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 features to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Vestavia Hills AL.