How to Select the Best HVAC School Near Boaz Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Boaz AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things 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. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Boaz Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Boaz AL, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in online, this option may be a more practical solution for many Boaz AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Boaz and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Boaz AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few 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 earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two 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 as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional 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 pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Boaz AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Boaz AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates 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 guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may 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 also that it has the network of Boaz AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Boaz AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Boaz AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Boaz AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience 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 in the evening or on weekends near Boaz AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose an HVAC school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are ample 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 talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening 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 outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Boaz AL.