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How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class Near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville Alabama commercial hvac tech servicing furnacesOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Huntsville AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

Huntsville Alabama residential A/C condensers

There are several alternatives 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 minimum period of time, often completed in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Huntsville Al.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for 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 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 based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Huntsville AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Huntsville Alabama forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Huntsville AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Huntsville 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 commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Huntsville AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few 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 exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Huntsville Alabama hvac contractor working on water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Huntsville AL area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Huntsville AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use 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 Huntsville 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 technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Huntsville AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Huntsville AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Huntsville AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Huntsville HVAC Training Programs

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Finding the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night 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 right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Huntsville AL.


 

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