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How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Trade School Near Trussville Alabama

Trussville Alabama commercial hvac contractor servicing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Trussville AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

Trussville Alabama home A/C condensers

There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often achieved in just 6 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 might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Trussville Al.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for 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 learn how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and money 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 Trussville AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Trussville Alabama central heating registerEnrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Trussville AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Trussville and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

HVAC Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Trussville AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools

Trussville Alabama hvac tech working on hot water heater

When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Trussville AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational programs in the Trussville AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Trussville AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Trussville AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Trussville AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Trussville AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Trussville AL, check that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Trussville HVAC Tech Schools

Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Picking the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour 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, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Trussville AL.


 

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