How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Montevallo Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Montevallo AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just 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 benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Montevallo Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require 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.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Montevallo AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Montevallo AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Montevallo and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Montevallo AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the important 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 may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Montevallo AL area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely 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. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Montevallo AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Montevallo AL HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Montevallo AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Montevallo AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Montevallo AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Montevallo AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask 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
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should pick 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 sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate 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 right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Montevallo AL.