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How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Class Near Tuscumbia Alabama

Tuscumbia Alabama commercial hvac tech installing furnacesNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Tuscumbia AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree Classes

Tuscumbia Alabama home A/C condensers

There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Tuscumbia Al.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees feature 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the appropriate 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 perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Tuscumbia AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Tuscumbia Alabama central heating registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one option in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Tuscumbia AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Tuscumbia and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Tuscumbia AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are some 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 competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs

Tuscumbia Alabama hvac technician working on water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Tuscumbia AL area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Tuscumbia AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Tuscumbia AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscumbia AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, 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 moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult 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 students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Tuscumbia HVAC Trade Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should select an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Tuscumbia AL.


 

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