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How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Course Near Muscle Shoals Alabama

Muscle Shoals Alabama commercial hvac technician repairing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Muscle Shoals AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain 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 home. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to investigate 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 covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses

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There are a number of options offered 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 period of time, often achieved in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Muscle Shoals Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning 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 supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Muscle Shoals AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Muscle Shoals Alabama forced air heat registerEnrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also offer 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 online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Muscle Shoals AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Muscle Shoals and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Muscle Shoals AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

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Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Muscle Shoals AL area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Muscle Shoals AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative 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 use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Muscle Shoals AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Muscle Shoals AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Muscle Shoals AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Muscle Shoals AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Muscle Shoals HVAC Training Schools

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Finding the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should select an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should check out 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Muscle Shoals AL.


 

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