How to Enroll In the Best Heating and Cooling Certificate Program Near Pelham Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Pelham AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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 additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often achieved in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Pelham Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, many 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Pelham AL, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number 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 via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Pelham AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Pelham 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 career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated 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 technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Pelham AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few 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 proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs 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 might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Pelham AL area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Pelham 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 an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high 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 will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Pelham AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Pelham AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Pelham AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Pelham AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Pelham AL.