How to Enroll In the Best Heating and Cooling Trade School Near Lincoln Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Lincoln AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant 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. Following 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 specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Lincoln AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Lincoln AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Lincoln and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of 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, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Lincoln AL HVAC techs to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained 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. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Lincoln AL area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly 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 need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Lincoln AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important 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 utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Lincoln AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship 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. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Lincoln AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Lincoln AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Lincoln AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Lincoln AL, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain 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.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk 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, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available 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 guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Lincoln AL.