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How to Choose the Best HVAC Degree Program Near Arab Alabama

Arab Alabama commercial hvac tech installing furnacesOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Arab AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details 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 other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools

Arab Alabama residential A/C condensers

There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in as little as six months, though some courses 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 programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Arab Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Arab AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Arab Alabama central heating registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most 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 rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Arab AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Arab and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

HVAC Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Arab AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 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 specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For HVAC Trade Schools

Arab Alabama hvac technician working on hot water heater

When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Arab AL area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 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 vocational programs in the Arab AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent 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 graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Arab AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Arab AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Arab AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger 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 teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Arab AL, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Arab HVAC Tech Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose an HVAC school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. 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 informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Arab AL.


 

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