How to Select the Best Heating and Cooling Trade School Near Daphne Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Daphne AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely 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 evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Daphne 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 job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, 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 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as 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 getting some experience in the field in Daphne AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Daphne AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Daphne and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Daphne AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam 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 field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, 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 desire to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Daphne AL area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Daphne AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Daphne AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Daphne AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Daphne AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Daphne AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Daphne AL, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are ample hands-on 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Daphne AL.