How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Hueytown Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Hueytown AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Hueytown 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 employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Hueytown AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Hueytown AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Hueytown and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Hueytown AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Hueytown AL area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Hueytown AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often 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 HVAC 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 course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, 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 also that it has the network of Hueytown AL HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Hueytown AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Hueytown AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Hueytown AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend 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 one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hueytown AL, check that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this post, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art 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 current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask 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 narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Hueytown AL.