How to Find the Best HVAC Certification Course Near Greenville Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Greenville AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate 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 in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Greenville Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide 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. Generally taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature 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 conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Greenville AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require 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 attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Greenville AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Greenville and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling 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 little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Greenville AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative 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 decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Schools
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Greenville AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Greenville AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train 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 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 can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Greenville AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Greenville AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Greenville AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Greenville AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk 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. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Greenville AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Finding the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask 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 appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Greenville AL.