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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program Near Tuscumbia Alabama

Tuscumbia Alabama commercial hvac technician repairing furnacesOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Tuscumbia AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Tuscumbia Alabama residential A/C condensers

There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Tuscumbia Al.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Tuscumbia AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Tuscumbia Alabama forced air heat registerEnrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Tuscumbia AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Tuscumbia and study materials 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 work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Tuscumbia AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired 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 need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools

Tuscumbia Alabama hvac tech repairing hot water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Tuscumbia AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Tuscumbia AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified 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 more extensive directory 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Tuscumbia AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area 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 on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician 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. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Tuscumbia AL residence. Take note 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 important that you get as much one-on-one 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 see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify 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 in the evening or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Tuscumbia HVAC Training Courses

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Finding the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Tuscumbia AL.


 

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