How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Vocational School Near Oneonta Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Oneonta AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details 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 other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Oneonta Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, many degrees include 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 conventional 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 future career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Oneonta AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Oneonta AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Oneonta and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Oneonta AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of 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 earned by passing a competency examination and may 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 must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Schools
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Oneonta AL area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Oneonta AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify 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 finish the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Oneonta AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Oneonta AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed 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, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Oneonta AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Oneonta AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify 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 in the evening or on weekends near Oneonta AL, check that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Selecting the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Oneonta AL.