How to Select the Best Heating and Cooling Certification Training Near Dothan Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Dothan AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details 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 benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical 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 as little as 6 months, although some programs 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 might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Dothan Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Dothan AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number 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 attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Dothan AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Dothan and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade 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 skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Dothan AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Dothan AL area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Dothan AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified 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 broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Dothan AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Dothan AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Dothan AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Dothan AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some 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 assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, check that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Dothan AL.