How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling School Near Enterprise Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Enterprise AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically completed in as little as six months, however some courses 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 training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Enterprise Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Enterprise AL, later going back 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
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Enterprise AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Enterprise and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
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 air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Enterprise AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency 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 field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Enterprise AL area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Enterprise AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Enterprise AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational 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 inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Enterprise AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus 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 concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Enterprise AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Enterprise AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Enterprise AL, confirm that the schools 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. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Choosing the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this post, you should pick an HVAC trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed 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 contractor in Enterprise AL.