How to Enroll In the Best HVAC Degree Program Near Alexander City Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Alexander City AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Alexander City Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Alexander City AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some 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 via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Alexander City AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Alexander City and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in 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, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Alexander City AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional 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. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Alexander City AL area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Alexander City AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate 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 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 signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory 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 validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Alexander City AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Alexander City AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Alexander City AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Alexander City AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger 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 students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and find out 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 fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Alexander City AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain 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.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Choosing the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are plenty of hands-on 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 speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Alexander City AL.