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How to Enroll In the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Fultondale Alabama

Fultondale Alabama commercial hvac tech repairing furnacesOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Fultondale AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

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There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically completed in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Fultondale Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require 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 learn how to design them.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Fultondale AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Fultondale Alabama central heating registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Fultondale AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Fultondale and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Fultondale AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few 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 makes available 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 must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Trade Schools

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Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Fultondale AL area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Fultondale AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Fultondale AL HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Fultondale AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Fultondale AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Fultondale AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher 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 larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Fultondale AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers 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.

Find Out More About Fultondale HVAC Vocational Schools

Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Finding the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this post, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Fultondale AL.


 

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