How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Trade School Near Cullman Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Cullman AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of choices available for HVAC instruction 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 minimum amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Cullman Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even 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 cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Cullman AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Cullman AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Cullman and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient 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 professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Cullman AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Cullman AL area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Cullman AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Cullman AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational 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 Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Cullman AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Cullman AL HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Cullman AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one 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 experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cullman AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select an HVAC school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget 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 informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Cullman AL.