How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program Near Montevallo Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Montevallo AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation 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 within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Montevallo Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 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 objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Montevallo AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Montevallo AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Montevallo and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry 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 professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Montevallo AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various 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 mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Training Classes
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Montevallo AL area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Montevallo AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Montevallo AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Montevallo AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local 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 working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Montevallo AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Montevallo AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some 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 feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Montevallo AL, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out 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
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are lots of 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Montevallo AL.