How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class Near Russellville Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Russellville AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things 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 other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Russellville Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally 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 geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling 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 invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Russellville AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for some Russellville AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Russellville and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Russellville AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be received 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 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Russellville AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Russellville AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Russellville AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Russellville AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Russellville AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Russellville AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm 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 Russellville AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select an HVAC school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art 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 faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Russellville AL.