How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Vocational School Near Rainbow City Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Rainbow City AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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 criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Rainbow City Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Rainbow City AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly 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 as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Rainbow City AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Rainbow City and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Rainbow City AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned 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. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Rainbow City AL area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Rainbow City AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify 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 ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified 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 broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Rainbow City AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational 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 relationships with local Rainbow City AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained 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 technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Rainbow City AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Rainbow City AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Rainbow City AL, verify that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this post, you should choose an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Rainbow City AL.