How to Choose the Best HVAC Training Program Near Saks Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Saks AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of potential 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 factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Saks Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning 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 detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Saks AL, eventually 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
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate 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 participated in on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Saks AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Saks and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic 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 techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Saks AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many 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 recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Saks AL area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Saks AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain 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 guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also signify that the instructors 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 directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Saks AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools 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 reviewing have referring partnerships with local Saks AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Saks AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Saks AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, 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 schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Saks AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are sufficient 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 tour 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening 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 detailed in our guidelines for assessing 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Saks AL.