How to Select the Best HVAC Certification Course Near Enterprise Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Enterprise AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you require? Some future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things 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 additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, typically completed in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train 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 deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Enterprise Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 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 for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Enterprise AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Enterprise AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Enterprise and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of 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, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Enterprise AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some 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 proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Enterprise AL area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Enterprise AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Enterprise AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Enterprise AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Enterprise AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Enterprise AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Enterprise AL, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to 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 things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate 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 informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Enterprise AL.