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How to Select the Best HVAC Certification Training Near Fairfield Alabama

Fairfield Alabama commercial hvac technician servicing furnacesOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Fairfield AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things 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 additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

Fairfield Alabama residential A/C condensers

There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Fairfield Al.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Fairfield AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Fairfield Alabama central heating registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many 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 on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Fairfield AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Fairfield and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians 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 commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Fairfield AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Fairfield Alabama hvac tech installing hot water heater

After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Fairfield AL area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Fairfield AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify 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 program. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent 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 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 validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Fairfield AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Fairfield AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional 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 using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fairfield AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Fairfield AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult 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 students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees 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 can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fairfield AL, check 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 permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Fairfield HVAC Training Programs

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Selecting the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should select an HVAC school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Fairfield AL.


 

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