How to Pick the Best Heating and Cooling Degree Program Near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Montgomery AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 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 programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Montgomery Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate 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 standard four year program. In addition to mastering 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 future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Montgomery AL, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some 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 via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Montgomery AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Montgomery and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Montgomery AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination 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 together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Montgomery AL area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Montgomery AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive 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 is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified 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 more extensive 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Montgomery AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Montgomery AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Montgomery AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Montgomery AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased 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 see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Montgomery AL, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on 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 speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter 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 technician in Montgomery AL.