How to Enroll In the Best Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Albertville Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Albertville AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to research 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 explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number 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. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically completed in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Albertville Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees include 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 traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning 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 based on what your long term career aspirations 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 acquiring some experience in the trade in Albertville AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Albertville AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Albertville and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Albertville AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the important 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 received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you select 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 pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Albertville AL area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Albertville AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved 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 course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Albertville AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Albertville AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Albertville AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Albertville AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk 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 evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Albertville AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you should select an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask 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 as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Albertville AL.