How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training Near Glencoe Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Glencoe AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors 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 benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Glencoe Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning 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 exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Glencoe AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Glencoe AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Glencoe and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of 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 easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Glencoe AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Glencoe AL area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Glencoe AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at 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 could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can result in 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 additionally that it has the network of Glencoe AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Glencoe AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Glencoe AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Glencoe AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult 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 teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Glencoe AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this post, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Glencoe AL.