How to Select the Best HVAC Trade School Near Talladega Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Talladega AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, although some courses 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 programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Talladega Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Talladega AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Talladega AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Talladega and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Talladega AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here 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 can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Talladega AL area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Talladega AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential 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 utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Talladega AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Talladega AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Talladega AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Talladega AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized 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 experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to 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 programs 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 Talladega AL, verify that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, 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 issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose an HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper 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 educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Talladega AL.