How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course Near Atmore Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Atmore 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 selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Atmore Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature 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 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.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Atmore AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for some Atmore AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Atmore and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business 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 skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Atmore AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be acquired 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Courses
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Atmore AL area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Atmore AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 program. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Atmore AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Atmore AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local 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 using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Atmore AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Atmore AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Atmore AL, check that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Atmore AL.