How to Select the Right HVAC School Near Selma Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Selma AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Selma Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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 appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Selma AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical 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 alternative may be a more practical solution for many Selma AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Selma and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Selma AL HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam 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 various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Selma AL area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Selma AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing 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 might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors 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 will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Selma AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Selma AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Selma AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Selma AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training 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 experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and find out 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 reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Selma AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this post, you need to select an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night 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 right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Selma AL.