How to Select the Best HVAC Trade School Near Cullman Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Cullman AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some 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. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in just 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 related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Cullman Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Cullman AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Cullman AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Cullman and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Cullman AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Cullman AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Cullman AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Cullman AL HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous 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 Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Cullman AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain 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, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Cullman AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Cullman AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cullman AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating 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 Cullman AL.