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How to Enroll In the Best HVAC Program Near Satsuma Alabama

Satsuma Alabama commercial hvac tech installing furnacesNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Satsuma AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Degree Schools

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There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically achieved in just six 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 related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Satsuma Al.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally 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 tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources 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 trade in Satsuma AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Satsuma Alabama central heating registerEnrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Satsuma AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Satsuma and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

HVAC Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians 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, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Satsuma AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you pick 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 pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

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Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Satsuma AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two 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 vocational schools in the Satsuma AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable 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 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 might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Satsuma AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Satsuma AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Satsuma AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Satsuma AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some 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 reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Satsuma AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers 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.

Learn More About Satsuma HVAC Tech Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Finding the right HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this post, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Satsuma AL.


 

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