How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Dixiana Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Dixiana AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you require? Some potential students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, typically completed in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Dixiana Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Dixiana AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Dixiana AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Dixiana and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Dixiana AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination 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 professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Dixiana AL area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Dixiana AL area have attained 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 and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could signify 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 imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may produce 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 additionally that it has the network of Dixiana AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Dixiana AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area 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 using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Dixiana AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Dixiana AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized 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 large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Dixiana AL, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an HVAC 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 plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right 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 informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Dixiana AL.