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How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Degree Program Near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama commercial hvac tech repairing furnacesOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Homewood AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree Courses

Homewood Alabama residential air conditioning condensers

There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction 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 minimum period of time, usually accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Homewood Al.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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.

Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Homewood AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Homewood Alabama central heating registerAttending an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Homewood AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Homewood and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of 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 online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.

HVAC Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Homewood AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For Heating and Cooling Trade Schools

Homewood Alabama hvac tech installing water heater

After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Homewood AL area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade schools in the Homewood AL area have attained 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 pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved 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 of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 Homewood AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Homewood AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Homewood AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving 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 might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Homewood AL, check that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Homewood HVAC Trade Schools

Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this post, you need to select an HVAC school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down 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 contractor in Homewood AL.


 

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