How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class Near Bessemer Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Bessemer AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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 additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
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 minimum period of time, often achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially 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. Following is a short description of each option offered near Bessemer Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, some degrees incorporate 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 standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Bessemer AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Bessemer AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Bessemer and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently 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, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Bessemer AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Courses
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Bessemer AL area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Bessemer AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to train 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 list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Bessemer AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Bessemer AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Bessemer AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Bessemer AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Bessemer AL, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this post, you should choose an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical 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 current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Bessemer AL.