How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Training Near Mountain Brook Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Mountain Brook AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Mountain Brook Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Mountain Brook AL, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Mountain Brook AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Mountain Brook and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many 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, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Mountain Brook AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some of the important 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 earned 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 three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Mountain Brook AL area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Mountain Brook AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain 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 guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Mountain Brook AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Mountain Brook AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Mountain Brook AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Mountain Brook AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, check that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Mountain Brook AL.