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How to Select the Best HVAC Training Class Near Andalusia Alabama

Andalusia Alabama commercial hvac tech installing furnacesOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Andalusia AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses

Andalusia Alabama home A/C condensers

There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Andalusia Al.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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 right 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 start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Andalusia AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Andalusia Alabama central heating registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Andalusia AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Andalusia and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Andalusia AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination 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 various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For Heating and Cooling Trade Schools

Andalusia Alabama hvac tech working on water heater

After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Andalusia AL area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Andalusia AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire 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 and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Andalusia AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Andalusia AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Andalusia AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Andalusia AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized 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 big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Andalusia AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Andalusia HVAC Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors 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 tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Andalusia AL.


 

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