How to Find the Best HVAC Training Class Near Hoover Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Hoover AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Hoover Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. 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 knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four 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 based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Hoover AL, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Hoover AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Hoover and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Hoover AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade 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 attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam 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 provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Hoover AL area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Hoover AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also signify 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 directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Hoover AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Hoover AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Hoover AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Hoover AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger 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 with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience 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 fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hoover AL, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this post, you should pick an HVAC 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 ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Hoover AL.