How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Vocational School Near Theodore Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Theodore AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things 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 explore how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, typically achieved 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 related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Theodore Al.
- Certificate. Usually 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 industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with 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 field in Theodore AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate 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 participated in online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Theodore AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Theodore and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Theodore AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Theodore AL area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Theodore 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, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Theodore AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade 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 companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Theodore AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local 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 working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Theodore AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Theodore AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Theodore AL, confirm that the programs you are considering provide 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 policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should select an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Theodore AL.