How to Enroll In the Best HVAC Certificate Program Near Chickasaw Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Chickasaw AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several choices 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 lesser amount of time, usually achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Chickasaw Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Chickasaw AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Chickasaw AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Chickasaw and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Chickasaw AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory 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 may be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Chickasaw AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Chickasaw AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Chickasaw AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools 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 Chickasaw AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Chickasaw AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Chickasaw AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Chickasaw AL, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this post, you should choose an HVAC trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if evening 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 filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Chickasaw AL.