How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Princeton Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Princeton AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to investigate 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Princeton Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, many degrees incorporate 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Princeton AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on 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 practical solution for many Princeton AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Princeton 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 responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Princeton AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following 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 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Princeton AL area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Princeton AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Princeton AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Princeton AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Princeton AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Princeton AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one 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 see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Princeton AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Finding the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Princeton AL.