How to Choose the Best HVAC Certification Class Near Foley Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Foley AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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 other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Foley Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential 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 extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Foley AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate 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 remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Foley AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Foley and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Foley AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Foley AL area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Foley AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors 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 broader list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Foley AL HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Foley AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area 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 working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Foley AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Foley AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise 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 fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Foley AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select an HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Foley AL.