How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class Near Saraland Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Saraland AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several alternatives 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 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Saraland Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, some 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 standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Saraland AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Saraland AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Saraland and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Saraland AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available 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 as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Saraland AL area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Saraland AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Saraland AL HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Saraland AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Saraland AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Saraland AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Saraland AL, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows 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.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to select an HVAC trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Saraland AL.