How to Pick the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Monroeville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Monroeville AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors 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 addressed 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 cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Monroeville Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Monroeville AL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Monroeville AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Monroeville and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Monroeville AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with 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 provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Monroeville AL area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Monroeville AL area have acquired 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 pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course 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 complete the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified 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 broader directory of graduates, which may result in 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Monroeville AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Monroeville AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional 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 currently 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 Monroeville AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Monroeville 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 fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Monroeville AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching 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 inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Monroeville AL.