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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program Near Sylacauga Alabama

Sylacauga Alabama commercial hvac contractor repairing furnacesNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Sylacauga AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

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There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Sylacauga Al.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the right credential program will be dependent 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 getting some experience in the field in Sylacauga AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Courses

Sylacauga Alabama forced air heat registerAttending an HVAC school online is one possibility in 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 instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Sylacauga AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Sylacauga and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous 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, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Sylacauga AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Below 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 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 professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For Heating and Cooling Certification Courses

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When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Sylacauga AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated 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 need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Sylacauga AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Sylacauga AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC vocational 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 companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Sylacauga AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Sylacauga AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Sylacauga AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn 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 reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Sylacauga AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Sylacauga HVAC Training Classes

Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Sylacauga AL.


 

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