How to Select the Best Heating and Cooling Program Near Eufaula Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Eufaula AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to receive the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually completed in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Eufaula Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even 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.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Eufaula AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Eufaula AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Eufaula and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Eufaula AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some 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 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 as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Eufaula AL area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Eufaula AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify 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 program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Eufaula AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together 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 contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Eufaula AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Eufaula AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Eufaula AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased 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 difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Eufaula AL, confirm that the programs you are considering offer 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 due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial 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 HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person 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. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper 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 proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Eufaula AL.