How to Select the Best Heating and Cooling Certification Training 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 look for an HVAC trade school near Satsuma AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of options 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 least period of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Satsuma Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial 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 extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Satsuma AL, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for 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 participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Satsuma AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Satsuma and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Satsuma AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians 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 could be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Satsuma AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Satsuma AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean 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 a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Satsuma AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Satsuma AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Satsuma AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Satsuma AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Satsuma AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Satsuma AL.