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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Pike Road Alabama

Pike Road Alabama commercial hvac contractor servicing furnacesOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Pike Road AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details 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 criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree Courses

Pike Road Alabama home A/C condensers

There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Pike Road Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 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 tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Pike Road AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Pike Road Alabama forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Pike Road AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Pike Road and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training 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 frequently used in the business 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 typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Pike Road AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Pike Road Alabama hvac technician installing water heater

Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Pike Road AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational schools in the Pike Road 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 relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing 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 could signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also signify 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 result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Pike Road AL HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Pike Road AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Pike Road AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Pike Road AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Pike Road AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Pike Road HVAC Training Schools

Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Picking the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper 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 right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Pike Road AL.


 

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