How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Trade School Near Monroeville Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Monroeville 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 prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost 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 things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade 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 completed in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Monroeville Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, a number of 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Monroeville AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Monroeville AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Monroeville and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs 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 required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Monroeville AL HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Monroeville AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Monroeville AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Monroeville AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Monroeville AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Monroeville AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Monroeville AL home. Take note 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 desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Monroeville AL, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Monroeville AL.