How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Program Near Rainbow City Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Rainbow City AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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 additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical 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 achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Rainbow City Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning 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 dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources 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 Rainbow City AL, later returning 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 Courses
Attending an HVAC program online is one option to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. 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 balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Rainbow City AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Rainbow City and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Heating and Cooling 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 commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Rainbow City AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many 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 key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Rainbow City AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but also that it has the network of Rainbow City AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools 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 Rainbow City AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Rainbow City AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Rainbow City AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Rainbow City AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should pick an HVAC trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Rainbow City AL.