How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program Near Hueytown Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Hueytown AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things 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. These and other benchmarks will be covered 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 professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Hueytown Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Hueytown AL, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Hueytown AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Hueytown and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals 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 each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Hueytown AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be received 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Hueytown AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Hueytown AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified 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 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 a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Hueytown AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together 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 HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Hueytown AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools 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, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Hueytown AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Hueytown AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Hueytown AL, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect 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. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter 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 professional in Hueytown AL.