How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Course Near Pinson Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Pinson AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses 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 might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Pinson Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Pinson AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Pinson AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Pinson and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot 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. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Pinson AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are some 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination 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 exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Pinson AL area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Pinson AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 Pinson AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Pinson AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Pinson AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Pinson AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Pinson AL, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Finding the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this post, you should pick an HVAC school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore 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. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist 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 technician in Pinson AL.