How to Enroll In the Best HVAC Certification Course Near Auburn Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Auburn AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Auburn Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Auburn AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Auburn AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Auburn and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs 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 online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Auburn AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade 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 competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Auburn AL area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Auburn AL area have attained 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 relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean 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 a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Auburn AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Auburn AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Auburn AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Auburn AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Auburn AL, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training 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 inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating 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 commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Auburn AL.