How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Fultondale Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Fultondale AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors 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. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually accomplished in just 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 programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Fultondale Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding 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 tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four 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.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Fultondale AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Fultondale AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Fultondale and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools 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 HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Fultondale AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, 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 all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Fultondale AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance 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 a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive 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 will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Fultondale AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational 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 within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Fultondale AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Fultondale AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Fultondale AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fultondale AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Fultondale AL.