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How to Pick the Right HVAC Degree Program Near Hoover Alabama

Hoover Alabama commercial hvac tech installing furnacesNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Hoover AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion 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 explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools

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There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often completed in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Hoover Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, some degrees incorporate 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 traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Hoover AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Courses

Hoover Alabama forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one approach in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most 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 rest of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Hoover AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Hoover and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Hoover AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

What to Ask HVAC Training Programs

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After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Hoover AL area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Hoover AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high 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 use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Hoover AL HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Hoover AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area 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 using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Hoover AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Hoover AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm 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 Hoover AL, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be 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, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Hoover HVAC Trade Schools

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Selecting the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out 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 appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Hoover AL.


 

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