How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Lincoln Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Lincoln AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation 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 within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically completed in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of 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 provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Lincoln Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide 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 and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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 appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Lincoln AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option to getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Lincoln AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Lincoln and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Lincoln AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Lincoln AL area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Lincoln AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Lincoln AL HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Lincoln AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Lincoln AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Lincoln AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized 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 experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions regarding 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. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Lincoln AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this post, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Lincoln AL.