How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class Near Roanoke Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Roanoke AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors 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 additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable 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. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Roanoke Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning 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 delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate 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 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.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals 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 field in Roanoke AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Roanoke AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Roanoke and study materials may 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 commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Roanoke AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Below 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 may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Roanoke AL area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Roanoke AL area have acquired 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. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Roanoke AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Roanoke AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Roanoke AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Roanoke AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Roanoke AL, verify that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Roanoke AL.