How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program Near Hartselle Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Hartselle AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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. Those and other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically accomplished in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Hartselle Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Hartselle AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also provide 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 online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Hartselle AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Hartselle and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Hartselle AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following 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 competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Hartselle AL area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Hartselle AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program 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 guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct 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 can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Hartselle AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Hartselle AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Hartselle AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Hartselle AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Hartselle AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Hartselle AL.