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How to Select the Right HVAC Program Near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama commercial hvac contractor installing furnacesOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Dothan AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some 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. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree Classes

Dothan Alabama home A/C condensers

There are several options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Dothan Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, many degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Dothan AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Dothan Alabama forced air heat registerEnrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Dothan AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Dothan and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Dothan AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For HVAC Schools

Dothan Alabama hvac contractor working on water heater

When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Dothan AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors 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 trade schools in the Dothan AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive 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, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Dothan AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction 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 HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Dothan AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools 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, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Dothan AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Dothan AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain 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.

Learn More About Dothan HVAC Training Schools

Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this post, you need to select an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Dothan AL.


 

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