How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class Near Clanton Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Clanton AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of options available for HVAC training 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 lesser period of time, often accomplished in just 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 appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Clanton Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Clanton AL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Clanton AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Clanton and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Clanton AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Clanton AL area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Clanton AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may produce 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Clanton AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Clanton AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Clanton AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Clanton AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Clanton AL, check that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Finding the right HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this post, you should choose an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Clanton AL.