How to Pick the Best HVAC School Near Ozark Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Ozark AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things 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 benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation 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 professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited 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 learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Ozark AL, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part 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 remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Ozark AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Ozark and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Ozark AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are available. Here 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 proficiency examination and may be received 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, 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 desire to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Ozark AL area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Ozark AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at 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 suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Ozark AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Ozark AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Ozark AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Ozark AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with 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 programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Ozark AL, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose an HVAC trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Ozark AL.