How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Course Near Sylacauga Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Sylacauga AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually completed in just six months, however some programs 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 training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Sylacauga Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, some 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with 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 acquiring some experience in the trade in Sylacauga AL, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some 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 may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Sylacauga AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Sylacauga and study supplies can 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, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Sylacauga AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Sylacauga AL area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two variables you will look at. Following are some 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 attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing 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 signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 additionally that it has the network of Sylacauga AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Sylacauga AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Sylacauga AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Sylacauga AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Sylacauga AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose an HVAC trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, 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 also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Sylacauga AL.