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How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Vocational School Near Mountain Brook Alabama

Mountain Brook Alabama commercial hvac technician installing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Mountain Brook AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you require? Some future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things that you need to look into 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 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 contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree Classes

Mountain Brook Alabama residential A/C condensers

There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually completed in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Mountain Brook Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with 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 getting some experience in the field in Mountain Brook AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Courses

Mountain Brook Alabama central heating registerEnrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Mountain Brook AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Mountain Brook and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

HVAC Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Mountain Brook AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved 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. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Mountain Brook Alabama hvac contractor working on hot water heater

Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Mountain Brook AL area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Mountain Brook AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Mountain Brook AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Mountain Brook AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date 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 with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Mountain Brook AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Mountain Brook AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Mountain Brook HVAC Vocational Schools

Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Choosing the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this post, you should select an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search 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 inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Mountain Brook AL.


 

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