How to Enroll In the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Florence Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Florence AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things 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. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Florence Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Florence AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Florence AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Florence and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous 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 HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Florence AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. 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 achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. 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 offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Florence AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Florence AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Florence AL HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Florence AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Florence AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Florence AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make 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, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look 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 tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, 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 too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Florence AL.