How to Pick the Best HVAC Certification Training Near Wetumpka Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Wetumpka AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction 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 minimum amount of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Wetumpka Al.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right 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 option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Wetumpka AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Wetumpka AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Wetumpka and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Wetumpka AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned 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. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Wetumpka AL area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Wetumpka AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent 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 broader directory of graduates, which can produce 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Wetumpka AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Wetumpka AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Wetumpka AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Wetumpka AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Wetumpka AL, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore 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, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Wetumpka AL.