How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Clay Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Clay AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things 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 criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Clay Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, some 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 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 future career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Clay AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Clay AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Clay and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
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 specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Clay AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Clay AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Clay AL area have earned 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 a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use 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 additionally that it has the network of Clay AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training 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 HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Clay 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 form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Clay AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Clay AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak 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 evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Clay AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should select an HVAC school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are plenty of practical 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. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Clay AL.