How to Find the Best HVAC Certificate Program Near Greenville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Greenville AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things 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 benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Greenville Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as 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.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Greenville AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Greenville AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Greenville and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Greenville AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, 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 earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Greenville AL area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two 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 Greenville 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 a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 also that it has the network of Greenville AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Greenville AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Greenville AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Greenville AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Greenville AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Greenville AL.