How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Program near Shelby Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Shelby AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely 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 professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Shelby AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
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. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Shelby AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, some degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Shelby AL, eventually returning to obtain 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 Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Shelby AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Shelby and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Shelby AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Shelby AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify 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 complete the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Shelby AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Shelby AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional 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 using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Shelby AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Shelby AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few 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 evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Shelby AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Shelby AL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Shelby Alabama area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Shelby County, Alabama
Shelby County is a county located in the central portion of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 195,085. The county seat is Columbiana. The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816.
Shelby County was established on February 7, 1818, and it was named for the Revolutionary War hero and the first Governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. Beginning in 1820, the first county seat was located at Shelbyville. This settlement, long defunct, was located within the modern city limits of Pelham. The first courthouse was built of logs. The seat was moved to Columbia, now Columbiana, in 1826. Initially housed in an old school building, a new brick courthouse building was completed in 1854. It is now known as the Old Shelby County Courthouse and houses the Shelby County Museum and Archives. The current limestone courthouse was built from 1905–06, at a cost of $300,000.
Shelby County was the home of an early inland waterway, the Coosa River, and it was also the location of a very early east-west railroad in Alabama that connected Atlanta, Georgia, with locations to its west. Shelby County was also crossed by an early north-south railroad, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, that connected Louisville, Nashville, Decatur, Birmingham, and Montgomery.
Air Conditioner Course Shelby AL
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Air Conditioner Course. However, 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined 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 Shelby AL.
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