How to Pick the Best Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Rainbow City Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Rainbow City AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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 discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Rainbow City Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Rainbow City AL, later returning 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 Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Rainbow City AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Rainbow City and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools 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 easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Rainbow City AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Rainbow City AL area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Rainbow City AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Rainbow City AL HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Rainbow City AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art 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 expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Rainbow City AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Rainbow City AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend 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 receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging 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 students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Rainbow City AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Choosing the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Rainbow City AL.