How to Find the Right HVAC Program Near Ozark Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Ozark AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although 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. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically completed 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 training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Ozark Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, a number of 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Ozark AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Ozark AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Ozark and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy 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 contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Ozark AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Ozark AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Ozark AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Ozark AL HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Ozark AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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 concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Ozark AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving 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 increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise 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 fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Ozark AL, verify that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Ozark AL.