How to Select the Best HVAC Training Program Near Meadowbrook Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Meadowbrook AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Meadowbrook Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two 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 learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Meadowbrook AL, eventually going back to earn 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 Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Meadowbrook AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Meadowbrook and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Meadowbrook AL HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved 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. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Meadowbrook AL area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Meadowbrook AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering 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 might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may result in 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 a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Meadowbrook AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Meadowbrook AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment 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 specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Meadowbrook AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Meadowbrook AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Meadowbrook AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this post, you should select an Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Meadowbrook AL.