How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Guntersville Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Guntersville AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their selection based entirely on the price 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 take into account. Some of the other things 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually achieved in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Guntersville Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include 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 standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Guntersville AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Guntersville AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Guntersville and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Guntersville AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized 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 proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Courses
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Guntersville AL area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Guntersville AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also 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 utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Guntersville AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught along 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 Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Guntersville AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Guntersville AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Guntersville AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized 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 instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Guntersville AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an HVAC school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Guntersville AL.