How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training Near Dixiana Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Dixiana AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss 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 Degree Training Programs
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often completed in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Dixiana Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Dixiana AL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Dixiana AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Dixiana and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic 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 professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Dixiana AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 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 in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Dixiana AL area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Dixiana AL area have received 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 relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct 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 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 will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Dixiana AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational 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 companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Dixiana AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Dixiana AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Dixiana AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges 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 monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Dixiana AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Dixiana AL.