How to Select the Best HVAC Vocational School Near Rainsville Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Rainsville AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to investigate 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, however some courses 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 can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Rainsville Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, many degrees feature 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Rainsville AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Rainsville AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Rainsville and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Rainsville AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Rainsville AL area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Rainsville AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Rainsville AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Rainsville AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Rainsville AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Rainsville AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
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 in the evening or on weekends near Rainsville AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are lots 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 inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Rainsville AL.