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How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class Near Rainsville Alabama

Rainsville Alabama commercial hvac technician servicing furnacesNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Rainsville AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details 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 covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

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There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical 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 just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Rainsville Al.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Rainsville AL, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Rainsville Alabama central heating registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one option to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Rainsville AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Rainsville and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job 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 active lifestyle.

HVAC 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 central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Rainsville AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

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Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Rainsville AL area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational schools in the Rainsville AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Rainsville AL HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Rainsville AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Rainsville AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Rainsville AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Rainsville AL, check that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Rainsville HVAC Training Courses

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Picking the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an HVAC vocational 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 sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered 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 checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Rainsville AL.


 

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