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How to Pick the Best HVAC Vocational School Near Tuskegee Alabama

Tuskegee Alabama commercial hvac tech installing furnacesOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Tuskegee AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant concerns, 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

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There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in as little as 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 relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Tuskegee Al.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, some degrees include 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Tuskegee AL, later returning to obtain 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 Courses Online

Tuskegee Alabama forced air heat registerEnrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place 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 Tuskegee AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Tuskegee and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Tuskegee AL HVAC techs to prove that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. 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 must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish 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 dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes

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When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Tuskegee AL area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical programs in the Tuskegee 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 relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean 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 additionally that it has the network of Tuskegee AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Tuskegee AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Tuskegee AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Tuskegee AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much individualized 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 teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and learn 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 handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuskegee AL, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Tuskegee HVAC Tech Schools

Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Picking the right HVAC training program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should select an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Tuskegee AL.


 

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