How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class Near Spanish Fort Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Spanish Fort AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically accomplished in just 6 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 relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Spanish Fort Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, along with 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 Spanish Fort AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Spanish Fort AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Spanish Fort and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Spanish Fort AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Spanish Fort AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Spanish Fort AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Spanish Fort AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught along 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 contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Spanish Fort 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 regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Spanish Fort AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Spanish Fort AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Spanish Fort AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person 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 training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Spanish Fort AL.