How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Program Near Chickasaw Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Chickasaw AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to investigate 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 discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Chickasaw Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level 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 delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 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 suited more for 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Chickasaw AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most 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 balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Chickasaw AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Chickasaw and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Chickasaw AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Chickasaw AL area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Chickasaw AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Chickasaw AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Chickasaw AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Chickasaw AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Chickasaw AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn 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 handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Chickasaw AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore 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. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Chickasaw AL.