How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling School Near Robertsdale Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Robertsdale AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Robertsdale Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as 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.
Choosing the ideal 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 approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Robertsdale AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also offer 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 online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Robertsdale AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Robertsdale and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Robertsdale AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Certification Courses
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Robertsdale AL area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs 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 pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering 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 could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Robertsdale AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Robertsdale AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies 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 up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Robertsdale 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 Robertsdale AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Robertsdale AL, check that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Robertsdale AL.