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How to Select the Best HVAC Program Near Millbrook Alabama

Millbrook Alabama commercial hvac technician servicing furnacesOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Millbrook AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to research 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 covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

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There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of 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 extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Millbrook 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 job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards 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.

Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Millbrook AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Millbrook Alabama forced air heat registerAttending an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Millbrook AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Millbrook and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools 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 easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

HVAC Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Millbrook AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some 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 may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick 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 readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs

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As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Millbrook AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical programs in the Millbrook AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Millbrook AL HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Millbrook AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Millbrook AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Millbrook AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few 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 concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Millbrook AL, check that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Millbrook HVAC Training Schools

Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore 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, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Millbrook AL.


 

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