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How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Program Near Ozark Alabama

Ozark Alabama commercial hvac technician servicing furnacesOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Ozark AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Degree Classes

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There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Ozark Al.

  • Certificate. Generally 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 job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future 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 field in Ozark AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Ozark Alabama central heating registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also provide 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 alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Ozark AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Ozark and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.

HVAC Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Ozark AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be earned 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 need to 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 mandatory for techs 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.

Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Trade Schools

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After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Ozark AL area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is very 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 two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Ozark AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, 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 acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Ozark AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Ozark AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Ozark AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Ozark AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Ozark AL, check that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Ozark HVAC Training Courses

Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Finding the right HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this post, you should select an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if 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 filter 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 technician in Ozark AL.


 

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