How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training Near Fairhope Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Fairhope AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of choices 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 least period of time, typically achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Fairhope Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Fairhope AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some 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 online, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Fairhope AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Fairhope and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs 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 online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of 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 criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Fairhope AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Fairhope AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Fairhope 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 an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential 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 will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Fairhope AL HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs 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 considering have referring partnerships with local Fairhope AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Fairhope AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fairhope AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, 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 schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairhope AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should select an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down 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 Fairhope AL.