How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Course near Birmingham Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Birmingham AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let’s look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Birmingham AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it’s important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, though some programs 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 deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Birmingham AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Birmingham AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Birmingham AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Birmingham and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Birmingham AL area and across the USA to choose from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Birmingham AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes 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 in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 Birmingham AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Birmingham AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus 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, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Birmingham AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Birmingham AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Birmingham AL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Birmingham Alabama area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2018 population of 209,880, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2018, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,151,801, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial center. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could work in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its rapid growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it the nicknames "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.
HVAC School Online Birmingham AL
Finding the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC School Online. However, as we have addressed in this article, you should select an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Birmingham AL.
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