How to Find the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Valley 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 Valley AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let’s look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Valley AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can 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 as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score 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 three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in just 6 months, however 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 programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Valley AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Valley AL, subsequently returning to earn 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 Classes
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Valley AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Valley and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Valley AL area and throughout the USA to choose from. That’s why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Valley AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing 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 suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also suggest 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 broader list of graduates, which can produce 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Valley AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Valley AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Valley AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Valley AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Valley AL, check that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Considering an HVAC School near Valley AL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Valley Alabama area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Chambers County, Alabama
Chambers County is a county located in the east central portion of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 34,215. Its county seat is Lafayette. Its name is in honor of Henry H. Chambers, who served as a United States Senator from Alabama.
Chambers County joined its four mill cities to make the city of Valley (which is now the largest city). Valley is rapidly increasing in size and located between Montgomery, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia.
As of the census of 2010, there were 34,215 people, 13,933 households, and 9,391 families residing in the county. The population density was 57 people per square mile (22/km2). There were 17,004 housing units at an average density of 28 per square mile (11/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 58.8% White (non-Hispanic), 38.7% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. 1.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Air Conditioning College Courses Valley AL
Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Air Conditioning College Courses. However, as we have covered in this article, you need to choose an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and modern 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 faculty and current students. Try 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 remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Valley AL.
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