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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program Near Robertsdale Alabama

Robertsdale Alabama commercial hvac technician installing furnacesOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Robertsdale AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you require? Many prospective 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 considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

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There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, although 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 might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Robertsdale Al.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, many 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Robertsdale AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Robertsdale Alabama forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer 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 via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Robertsdale AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Robertsdale and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

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 technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Robertsdale AL HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency 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 as well as 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 made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For Heating and Cooling Certification Courses

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When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Robertsdale AL area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly 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 technical schools in the Robertsdale AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified 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 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Robertsdale AL HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Robertsdale AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school 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 specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Robertsdale AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Robertsdale AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Robertsdale AL, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Robertsdale HVAC Training Courses

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this post, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Robertsdale AL.


 

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