How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Trussville Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Trussville AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically completed in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Trussville Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Trussville AL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Trussville AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Trussville and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Trussville AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Below 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available 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.
Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Trussville AL area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Trussville AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Trussville AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Trussville AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Trussville AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Trussville AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Trussville AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain 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 responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this post, you should select an HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Trussville AL.