How to Select the Best HVAC Trade School Near East Florence Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near East Florence AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. These and other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near East Florence Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in East Florence AL, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some East Florence AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from East Florence and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for East Florence AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged 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 offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the East Florence AL area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the East Florence AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can 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 East Florence AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local East Florence AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable 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 sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local East Florence AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your East Florence AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed in this post, you should select an Heating and Cooling 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 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in East Florence AL.