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How to Select the Best HVAC Certification Class Near Saks Alabama

Saks Alabama commercial hvac tech installing furnacesNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Saks AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

Saks Alabama home A/C condensers

There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in just 6 months, though 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 training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Saks Al.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, many degrees include 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 standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and money 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 trade in Saks AL, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Saks Alabama forced air heat registerAttending an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Saks AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Saks and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Saks AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can 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 needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

Saks Alabama hvac technician working on water heater

After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Saks AL area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Saks AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify 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. Along with helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher 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 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 additionally that it has the network of Saks AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Saks AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Saks AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Saks AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Saks AL, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Saks HVAC Training Classes

Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask 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 narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Saks AL.


 

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