How to Choose the Best HVAC Certification Course Near Midfield Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Midfield AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors 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. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Midfield Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Midfield AL, later returning 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 Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number 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 alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Midfield AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Midfield and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Midfield AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved 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. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 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 mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Schools
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Midfield AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Midfield AL area have earned 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 pertains to an individual program, such as 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. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 course. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential 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 use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Midfield AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Midfield AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Midfield AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Midfield AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may 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 difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Midfield AL, verify that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this post, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Midfield AL.