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How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Trade School Near Attalla Alabama

Attalla Alabama commercial hvac tech installing furnacesOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Attalla AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things 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 additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Degree Courses

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There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically completed 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 training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Attalla Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money 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 Attalla AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Attalla Alabama forced air heat registerAttending an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Attalla AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Attalla and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of 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, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic 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 contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Attalla AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned 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 professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

What to Ask HVAC Training Classes

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Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Attalla AL area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Attalla AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 finish the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Attalla AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Attalla AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Attalla AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Attalla AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Attalla 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 permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Attalla HVAC Schools

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Attalla AL.


 

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