How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Calera Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Calera AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, although some programs 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 advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Calera Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, a number of 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Calera AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly 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 in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Calera AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Calera and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Calera AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency 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 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Calera AL area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Calera AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent 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 more extensive list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Calera AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Calera AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Calera AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Calera AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees 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 attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Calera AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Calera AL.