How to Select the Best HVAC Certification Class Near Homewood Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Homewood AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often completed in just six months, though 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 training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Homewood Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with 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 field in Homewood AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number 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 may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Homewood AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Homewood and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Homewood AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Homewood AL area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Homewood AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Homewood AL HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Homewood AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Homewood AL HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Homewood AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training 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 see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Homewood AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter 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 Homewood AL.