How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Trade School Near Demopolis Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Demopolis AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Demopolis Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn 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 money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Demopolis AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC program online is one option to getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Demopolis AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Demopolis and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of 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. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Demopolis AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned 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. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Demopolis AL area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Demopolis 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. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 also that it has the network of Demopolis AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Demopolis AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Demopolis AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Demopolis AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized 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 students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Demopolis AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should select an HVAC trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are plenty 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 speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night 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 detailed in our guidelines for evaluating 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 commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Demopolis AL.