How to Pick the Right HVAC Program Near Rainbow City Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Rainbow City AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you require? Some potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors 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. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of 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 minimum period of time, usually completed in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Rainbow City Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, many 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Rainbow City AL, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Rainbow City AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Rainbow City and study materials may 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 work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate 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 technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Rainbow City AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed 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 made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Rainbow City AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Rainbow City AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Rainbow City AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Rainbow City AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Rainbow City AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Rainbow City AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Rainbow City AL, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC school program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you should select an HVAC school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit 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 training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate 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 informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Rainbow City AL.