How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Certification Training Near Leeds Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Leeds AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Leeds Al.
- Certificate. Generally 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 industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards 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 mastering 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 objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Leeds AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Leeds AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Leeds and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools 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 easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Leeds AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Leeds AL area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Leeds AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive 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. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Leeds AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Leeds AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Leeds AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Leeds AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Leeds AL, check that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Picking the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Leeds AL.