How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Satsuma Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Satsuma AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation 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 in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Satsuma Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Satsuma AL, later going back to earn 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 Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for many Satsuma AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Satsuma and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many 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 online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Satsuma AL HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained 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. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Satsuma AL area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Satsuma AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Satsuma AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Satsuma AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Satsuma AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Satsuma AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Satsuma AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this post, you need to pick an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are lots of 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Satsuma AL.