How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling School Near Brewton Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Brewton AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things 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 discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 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 applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Brewton Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Brewton AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also provide 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 via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Brewton AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Brewton and study materials can be reduced, 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 commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry 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 commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Brewton AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Brewton AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Brewton AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high 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 will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Brewton AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Brewton AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Brewton AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Brewton AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger 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 instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers 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 fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Brewton AL, check that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you should select an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Brewton AL.