How to Choose the Best HVAC Training Program Near Theodore Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Theodore AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Theodore Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Theodore AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach in obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also sponsor 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 via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Theodore AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Theodore and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Theodore AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the significant 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 earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly 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 essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Theodore AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 lower completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Theodore AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Theodore AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Theodore AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Theodore AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 one-on-one instruction 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 big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Theodore AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure 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 emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this post, you should pick an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid 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 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 Theodore AL.