How to Pick the Best Heating and Cooling Certification Course Near Fort Payne Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Fort Payne AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation 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 in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, however some programs 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 can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Fort Payne Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate 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 traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Fort Payne AL, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Fort Payne AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Fort Payne and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade 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 typically required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Fort Payne AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some 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 can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as 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 result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, 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 intend to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Fort Payne AL area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Fort Payne AL area have received 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 pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Fort Payne AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Fort Payne AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Fort Payne AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Fort Payne AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fort Payne AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure 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 responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Fort Payne AL.