How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Training Near Tuscumbia Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Tuscumbia AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several choices 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 lesser period of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Tuscumbia Al.
- Certificate. Usually 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 job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Tuscumbia AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Tuscumbia AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Tuscumbia and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Tuscumbia AL HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 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 in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms 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 imperative that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Tuscumbia AL area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Tuscumbia AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 might signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Tuscumbia AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Tuscumbia AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must 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 may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, check that the programs 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. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this post, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are lots of practical 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 inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter 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 professional in Tuscumbia AL.