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How to Pick the Right HVAC Vocational School Near Orange Beach Alabama

Orange Beach Alabama commercial hvac technician servicing furnacesOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Orange Beach AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree Courses

Orange Beach Alabama residential A/C condensers

There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Orange Beach Al.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, some degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Orange Beach AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Orange Beach Alabama forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Orange Beach AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Orange Beach and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.

HVAC 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 skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Orange Beach AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

Orange Beach Alabama hvac tech installing hot water heater

When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Orange Beach AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical programs in the Orange Beach AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can produce 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 a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Orange Beach AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together 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 HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Orange Beach AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Orange Beach AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Orange Beach AL home. 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 larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers 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 programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Orange Beach AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Orange Beach HVAC Vocational Schools

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you should choose an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Orange Beach AL.


 

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