How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Degree Program Near Meridianville Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Meridianville AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several options available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Meridianville Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate 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 call for 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.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Meridianville AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Meridianville AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Meridianville and study supplies may be lessened, 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 commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Meridianville AL HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired 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 three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms 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 desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Schools
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Meridianville AL area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Meridianville AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but also that it has the network of Meridianville AL HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Meridianville AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form 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 on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Meridianville AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Meridianville AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience 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 handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Meridianville AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this post, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Meridianville AL.