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How to Select the Right HVAC Training Class Near Roanoke Alabama

Roanoke Alabama commercial hvac technician servicing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Roanoke AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation 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 tackle how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Roanoke Alabama home A/C condensers

There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically completed in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Roanoke Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. 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 understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for 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 ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Roanoke AL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Courses

Roanoke Alabama central heating registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one approach in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many 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 alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Roanoke AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Roanoke and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations 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 frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Roanoke AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following 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 proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For HVAC Schools

Roanoke Alabama hvac tech working on hot water heater

As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Roanoke AL area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Roanoke AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Roanoke AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Roanoke AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure 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 tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Roanoke AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Roanoke AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some 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 reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Roanoke AL, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Roanoke HVAC Training Schools

Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined 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 professional in Roanoke AL.


 

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