How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Program Near Daphne Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Daphne AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC training 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 period of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Daphne Al.
- Certificate. Usually 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 trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees feature 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Daphne AL, subsequently returning to earn 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 Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also sponsor 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 approach 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 traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Daphne and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Daphne AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few 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 proficiency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Daphne AL area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Daphne AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering 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 indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Daphne AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Daphne AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm 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 on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Daphne AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Daphne AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure 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, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Daphne AL.