How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training Near Gardendale Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Gardendale AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to look into 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled 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 lesser period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Gardendale Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for 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 cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Gardendale AL, eventually going back to obtain 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
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Gardendale AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Gardendale and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Gardendale AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Here 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 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Gardendale AL area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Gardendale AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 additionally that it has the network of Gardendale AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Gardendale AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Gardendale AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Gardendale AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Gardendale AL, check that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Gardendale AL.