How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Course Near Tuskegee Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Tuskegee AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation 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 discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, often completed in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Tuskegee Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, some degrees include 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 conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Tuskegee AL, eventually returning 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 Courses
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Tuskegee AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Tuskegee and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
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 professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Tuskegee AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Courses
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Tuskegee AL area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Tuskegee AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain 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 certain 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. Along with helping ensure that you get a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 Tuskegee AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction 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 contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Tuskegee AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Tuskegee AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Tuskegee AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuskegee AL, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose 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 ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing 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 contractor in Tuskegee AL.