How to Enroll In the Best HVAC Program Near Irondale Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Irondale AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors 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 covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Irondale Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for 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 ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Irondale AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Irondale AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Irondale and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic 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 professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Irondale AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Irondale AL area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly 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 vocational programs in the Irondale AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct 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 alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Irondale AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Irondale AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Irondale AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Irondale AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges 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 some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Irondale AL, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers 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 Degree or Certificate
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Irondale AL.