How to Select the Right HVAC School near Atmore Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Atmore AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate 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 in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Atmore AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the important 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it’s essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Atmore AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 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.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, along 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 acquiring some experience in the field in Atmore AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Atmore AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Atmore and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Atmore AL area and across the United States to pick from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Atmore AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify 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 course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Atmore AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Atmore AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Atmore AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Atmore AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Atmore AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Considering an HVAC School near Atmore AL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Atmore Alabama area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Atmore is a city in Escambia County, Alabama, United States. It incorporated in 1907. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 10,194, with an estimated population of 10,006 in 2014. Atmore is in the planning stages to increase its economic base with additions in its new Rivercane development along the I-65 corridor.
Atmore has completed requirements to be recognized as an Alabama Community of Excellence at the upcoming Alabama League of Municipalities Convention. City officials are also working with the Alabama Historical Commission to have the downtown district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Atmore is located in western Escambia County at 31°1′23″N 87°29′31″W / 31.02306°N 87.49194°W / 31.02306; -87.49194 (31.023183, -87.492067). Its southern border is the Florida state line. The center of town is at the intersection of U.S. Route 31 and Alabama State Route 21, while a new section of the city has been incorporated 6 miles (10 km) to the north around Exit 57 of Interstate 65. US 31 leads southwest 20 miles (32 km) to Bay Minette and east 28 miles (45 km) to Brewton. Mobile is 51 miles (82 km) to the southwest via US 31 and I-65, while Pensacola, Florida, is 49 miles (79 km) south via AL 21, Florida State Road 97, and U.S. Route 29.
HVAC Tech School Atmore AL
Picking the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC Tech School. However, as we have addressed in this article, you need to select an HVAC trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk 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 whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Atmore AL.
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