How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Robertsdale Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Robertsdale AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some 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. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational 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 accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Robertsdale Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals 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 acquiring some experience in the field in Robertsdale AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Robertsdale AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Robertsdale and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in 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, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Robertsdale AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Robertsdale AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Robertsdale AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains 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 organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also suggest 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 more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Robertsdale AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Robertsdale AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Robertsdale AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing 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 increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning 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. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Robertsdale AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Robertsdale AL.