How to Enroll In the Best HVAC Trade School Near Phenix City Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Phenix City AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Phenix City Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Phenix City AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Phenix City AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Phenix City and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Phenix City AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. 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 competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two 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 along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably 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 Training Classes
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Phenix City AL area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Phenix City AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 program. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not qualified 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 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 validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Phenix City AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Phenix City AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Phenix City AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Phenix City AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees 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 monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience 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 handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, verify that the schools you are considering 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, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Picking the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are plenty of 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. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Phenix City AL.