How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Class near Gulf Shores Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Gulf Shores AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details 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 criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Gulf Shores AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few 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 proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with 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 required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it’s essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Gulf Shores AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level 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 supplies a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Gulf Shores AL, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Gulf Shores AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Gulf Shores and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, 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 vocational schools in the Gulf Shores AL area and all over the Country to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Gulf Shores AL area have attained 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. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly imperative 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Gulf Shores AL HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Gulf Shores AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Gulf Shores AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Gulf Shores AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gulf Shores AL, check that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Considering an HVAC School near Gulf Shores AL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Gulf Shores Alabama area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores is located on the Gulf of Mexico at 30°16'4.069" North, 87°42'5.285" West (30.267797, −87.701468). It is the southernmost settlement in the state of Alabama. It is served by Alabama State Route 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway), which leads north to Foley. Route 182 (Beach Boulevard) runs east-west along the shore front, while Route 180 (Fort Morgan Road) runs parallel to it, north of Little Lagoon. Gulf State Park occupies a large eastern part of the city.
Gulf Shores is located 33 miles (53 km) west of Pensacola, Florida, 54 miles (87 km) south of Mobile, 197 miles (317 km) east of New Orleans, 194 miles (312 km) south of Montgomery, and 55 miles (89 km) west of Navarre, Florida.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.0 square miles (72.5 km2), of which 23.2 square miles (60.0 km2) is land and 4.8 square miles (12.5 km2), or 17.24%, is water.
HVAC Course Online Gulf Shores AL
Finding the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC Course Online. However, as we have discussed in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night 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 proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options 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 Gulf Shores AL.
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