How to Select the Best HVAC School Near Lanett Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Lanett AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details 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. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational 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, typically achieved in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Lanett Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, some 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 standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught 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 dependent on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Lanett AL, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. 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 can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Lanett AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Lanett and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Lanett AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the important 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 earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select 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 decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Schools
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Lanett AL area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Lanett AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train 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 graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Lanett AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Lanett AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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 technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Lanett AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Lanett AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Lanett AL, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Choosing the right HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this post, you need to pick an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should 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 training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Lanett AL.