How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Program Near Chelsea Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Chelsea AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Chelsea Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Chelsea AL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for some Chelsea AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Chelsea and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Chelsea AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination 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 field 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 result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Schools
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Chelsea AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Chelsea AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain 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 program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Chelsea AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Chelsea AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Chelsea AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Chelsea AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased 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 a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Chelsea AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this post, you need to pick an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out 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. Also, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Chelsea AL.