How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Course near Huntsville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Huntsville AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things 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. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Huntsville 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 available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it’s important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, typically completed in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Huntsville AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees include 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Huntsville AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Huntsville AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Huntsville and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Huntsville AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Huntsville AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It’s also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Huntsville AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Huntsville AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish 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 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 tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Huntsville AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Huntsville AL home. Take note 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 important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Huntsville AL, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Considering an HVAC School near Huntsville AL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Huntsville Alabama area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County and south into Morgan County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 census. Huntsville is the third-largest city in Alabama and the largest city in the five-county Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, AL Combined Statistical Area, which at the 2013 census estimate had a total population of 683,871. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was 417,593 in 2010 to become the 2nd largest in Alabama. Huntsville metro's population reached 441,000 by 2014.
It grew across nearby hills north of the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list.
The first settlers of the area were Muscogee-speaking people. The Chickasaw traditionally claim to have settled around 1300 after coming east across the Mississippi. A combination of factors, including depopulation due to disease, land disputes between the Choctaw and Cherokee, and pressures from the United States government had largely depopulated the area prior to 1805. That year Revolutionary War veteran John Hunt settled in the land around the Big Spring. The 1805 Treaty with the Chickasaws and the Cherokee Treaty of Washington of 1806 ceded native claims to the United States Government. The area was subsequently purchased by LeRoy Pope, who named the area Twickenham after the home village of his distant kinsman Alexander Pope.
Air Conditioning Training School Huntsville AL
Finding the right HVAC training program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Air Conditioning Training School. However, as we have discussed in this post, you need to select an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Huntsville AL.
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