How to Pick the Best Heating and Cooling Certificate Program Near Rainsville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Rainsville AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Rainsville Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught 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 long term career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Rainsville AL, eventually returning 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 Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Rainsville AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Rainsville and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier 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 techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Rainsville AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination 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 together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other 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 enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Rainsville AL area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Rainsville AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain 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 program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Rainsville AL HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Rainsville AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Rainsville AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Rainsville AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training 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 observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some 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 reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to 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 certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Selecting the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick an HVAC school and a degree or certificate 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 modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Rainsville AL.