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How to Find the Right HVAC Program Near Chelsea Alabama

Chelsea Alabama commercial hvac technician installing furnacesNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Chelsea AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though 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 additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Chelsea Alabama home air conditioning condensers

There are a variety of options available for HVAC training 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 least period of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, though some courses 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 programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Chelsea Al.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential 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 extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Chelsea AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Chelsea Alabama central heating registerEnrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical 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 may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Chelsea AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Chelsea and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade 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 typically required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Chelsea AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Following 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 proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

What to Ask HVAC Training Classes

Chelsea Alabama hvac contractor working on hot water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Chelsea AL area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Chelsea AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are 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 acquire a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require 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 course. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Chelsea AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical 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 considering have referring relationships with local Chelsea AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying 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 equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Chelsea AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Chelsea AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out 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 reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Chelsea AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Chelsea HVAC Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Picking the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Chelsea AL.


 

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