How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Program Near Lanett Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Lanett AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? Many potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Lanett Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, some degrees include 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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 based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Lanett AL, subsequently returning to acquire 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 Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical 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 via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Lanett AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Lanett and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Lanett AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Lanett AL area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Lanett AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at 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 may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in 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 Lanett AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical 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 working relationships with local Lanett AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Lanett AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Lanett AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
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 in the evening or on weekends near Lanett AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you need to select an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance 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 proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Lanett AL.