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How to Pick the Best HVAC Training Program Near Brewton Alabama

Brewton Alabama commercial hvac tech servicing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Brewton AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools

Brewton Alabama residential A/C condensers

There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Brewton Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, a number of 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 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.

Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Brewton AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Brewton Alabama central heating registerAttending an HVAC school online is one approach in getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Brewton AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Brewton and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Brewton AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For HVAC Certification Classes

Brewton Alabama hvac technician installing hot water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Brewton AL area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Brewton AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as 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. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Brewton AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Brewton AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment 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, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Brewton AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving 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 charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Brewton AL, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make 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 due to work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Brewton HVAC Training Schools

Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Finding the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember 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 comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Brewton AL.


 

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