How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training Near Hoover Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Hoover AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best 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 near the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in as little as 6 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 relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Hoover Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Hoover AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one option to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Hoover AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Hoover and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Hoover AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the field that are offered. 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 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 must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple 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 additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire 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 decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection 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 Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Hoover AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Hoover AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught along 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 contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Hoover AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning 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 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, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Hoover AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Finding the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing 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 contractor in Hoover AL.