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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Arab Alabama

Arab Alabama commercial hvac technician servicing furnacesNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Arab AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

Arab Alabama home A/C condensers

There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical 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 achieved in as little as six months, although some programs 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 can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Arab Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level 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 supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Arab AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Arab Alabama central heating registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Arab AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Arab and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

HVAC Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Arab AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade 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 attained by passing a competency examination and can be earned 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 must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions For Heating and Cooling Trade Schools

Arab Alabama hvac technician working on water heater

Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Arab AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Arab AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Arab AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together 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 labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Arab AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Arab AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Arab AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Arab AL, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Arab HVAC Training Schools

Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Picking the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Arab AL.


 

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