How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Course Near Demopolis Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Demopolis AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion 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 pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically completed in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Demopolis Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, many degrees incorporate 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 traditional 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.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Demopolis AL, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate 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 balance of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more practical solution for many Demopolis AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Demopolis and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs 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 online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Demopolis AL HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Demopolis AL area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Demopolis AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Demopolis AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Demopolis AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Demopolis AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Demopolis AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can 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 sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Demopolis AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this post, you should choose an Heating and Cooling technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Demopolis AL.