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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class Near Oneonta Alabama

Oneonta Alabama commercial hvac contractor repairing furnacesNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Oneonta AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools

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There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Oneonta Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Oneonta AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Oneonta Alabama central heating registerAttending an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly 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 can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Oneonta AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Oneonta and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Oneonta AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, 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 desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Courses

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When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Oneonta AL area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Oneonta AL area have received 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 pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course 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 higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Oneonta AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Oneonta AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Oneonta AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Oneonta 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 important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to 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 schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Oneonta AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Oneonta HVAC Tech Schools

Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Selecting the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should choose an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Oneonta AL.


 

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