How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Fultondale Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Fultondale AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some 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 additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Fultondale Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared 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 air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Fultondale AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Fultondale AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Fultondale and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Fultondale AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of 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 list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Fultondale AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify 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 course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Fultondale AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Fultondale AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fultondale AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, 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 might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fultondale AL, verify that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Fultondale AL.