How to Select the Best Heating and Cooling Program Near Pike Road Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Pike Road AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details 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. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Pike Road Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, a number of degrees include 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 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.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Pike Road AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Pike Road AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Pike Road and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools 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 HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Pike Road AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following 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 exam and can be acquired 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, 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 wish to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Pike Road AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Pike Road AL area have attained 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 a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Pike Road AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Pike Road AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already 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 Pike Road AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Pike Road AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Pike Road AL, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Finding the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this post, you need to pick an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are sufficient practical 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 speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Pike Road AL.