How to Pick the Right HVAC Program Near Ozark Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Ozark AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Ozark Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular 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 delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Ozark AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Ozark AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Ozark and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs 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 HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Ozark AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Schools
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Ozark AL area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Ozark AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 Ozark AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain 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 labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Ozark AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional 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 using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Ozark AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Ozark AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Ozark AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to select an HVAC school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Ozark AL.