How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class Near Meridianville Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Meridianville AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically completed in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Meridianville Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering 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 future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Meridianville 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 Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also offer 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 practical solution for some Meridianville AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Meridianville and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Meridianville AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few 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 offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with 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 could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Meridianville AL area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Meridianville AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Meridianville AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training 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 within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Meridianville AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Meridianville AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Meridianville AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction 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 instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Meridianville AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, 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 Certificate or Degree
Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this post, you should select an HVAC school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak 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, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Meridianville AL.