How to Enroll In the Best HVAC Degree Program Near Florence Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Florence AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few 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 additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, often completed in as little as six months, though some courses 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 training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Florence Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, many degrees include 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 standard four 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 ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Florence AL, eventually returning 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 Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Florence AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Florence and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Florence AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Florence AL area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Florence AL area have acquired 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 relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also mean 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 broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Florence AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Florence AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job 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 instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Florence AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Florence AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person 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 training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Florence AL.