How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Trade School Near Tuscumbia Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Tuscumbia AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to get 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 home. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things 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. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically completed in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Tuscumbia Al.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four 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 ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Tuscumbia AL, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many 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 participated in on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Tuscumbia AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Tuscumbia and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online programs 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 HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Tuscumbia AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, 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 wish to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Tuscumbia AL area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Tuscumbia AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 program. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high 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 will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire 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 companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Tuscumbia AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscumbia AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Tuscumbia AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Finding the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Tuscumbia AL.