How to Select the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Talladega Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Talladega AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just 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. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Talladega Al.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees include 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Talladega AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number 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 may be attended online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Talladega AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Talladega and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry 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 professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Talladega AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few 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 may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types 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 acquire certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Talladega AL area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Talladega AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. 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 produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Talladega AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Talladega AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Talladega AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Talladega AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Talladega AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Talladega AL.