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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class Near Harvest Alabama

Harvest Alabama commercial hvac contractor installing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Harvest AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Harvest Alabama home A/C condensers

There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Harvest Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, some 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 traditional 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.

Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Harvest AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Courses

Harvest Alabama central heating registerEnrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Harvest AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Harvest and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of 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 HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Harvest AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Courses

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After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Harvest AL area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Harvest AL area have acquired 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 pertains 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, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Harvest AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Harvest AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Harvest AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Harvest AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure 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 Harvest AL, confirm 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, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Harvest HVAC Vocational Schools

Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Selecting the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this post, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Harvest AL.


 

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