How to Choose the Right HVAC Degree Program Near Midfield Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Midfield AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details 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 additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses 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 might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Midfield Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Midfield AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Midfield AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Midfield and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Midfield AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned 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 required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational 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 key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Midfield AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 complete the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Midfield AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools 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 working relationships with local Midfield AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Midfield AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Midfield AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training 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 witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Midfield AL, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits 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 Degree or Certificate
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, 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 right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Midfield AL.