How to Pick the Best HVAC Certification Course Near Tarrant Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Tarrant AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to research 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Tarrant Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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.
Selecting 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 commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Tarrant AL, subsequently returning to obtain 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 Training Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option to getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Tarrant AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Tarrant and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Tarrant AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available 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 three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Tarrant AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Tarrant AL area have received 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 pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Tarrant AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training 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 companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Tarrant AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Tarrant AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Tarrant AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can 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 challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Tarrant AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this post, you need to pick an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right 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 educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Tarrant AL.