How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Training Near Auburn Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Auburn AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based entirely 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 evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation completion 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 within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Auburn Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, many degrees feature 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 conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Auburn AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most 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 instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Auburn AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Auburn and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade 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 generally required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Auburn AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be received 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 needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Auburn AL area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Auburn AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Auburn AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Auburn AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area 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 working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Auburn AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Auburn AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors 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 schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this post, you should choose an HVAC school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Auburn AL.