How to Find the Best HVAC Certificate Program Near Guntersville Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Guntersville AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you require? Some future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors 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 other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Guntersville Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Guntersville AL, later returning 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 Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require 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 many Guntersville AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Guntersville and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Guntersville AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Guntersville AL area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Guntersville AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Guntersville AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade 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 partnerships with local Guntersville AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional 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 in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Guntersville AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to 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 moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Guntersville AL, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Guntersville AL.