How to Enroll In the Best Heating and Cooling Vocational School Near Glencoe Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Glencoe AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are significant 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. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Glencoe Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, some 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 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 learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Glencoe AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete 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 balance of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Glencoe AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Glencoe and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Glencoe AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. 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 proficiency 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 must have three 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 required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Glencoe AL area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Glencoe 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, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at 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 may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Glencoe AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Glencoe AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Glencoe AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Glencoe AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend 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 important that you get as much individualized instruction 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 large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Glencoe AL, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this post, you need to pick an HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Glencoe AL.