How to Choose the Best HVAC Certification Class Near Anniston Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Anniston AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors 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. Those and other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in as little as 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 applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Anniston Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, a number of 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 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.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Anniston AL, subsequently returning to earn 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 Online Courses
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Anniston AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Anniston and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs 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.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Anniston AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Anniston AL area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Anniston AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Anniston AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Anniston AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Anniston AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Anniston AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important 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 large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Anniston AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select an HVAC trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Anniston AL.