How to Choose the Right HVAC Degree Program Near Millbrook Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Millbrook AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist 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 earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Millbrook Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives 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 getting some experience in the field in Millbrook AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most 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 in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Millbrook AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Millbrook and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business 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 commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Millbrook AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are available. 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 can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Training Programs
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Millbrook AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Millbrook AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent 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 list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Millbrook AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Millbrook AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Millbrook AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Millbrook AL home. Take note 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 important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some 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 evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Millbrook AL, verify that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be 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 emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction 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 also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Millbrook AL.