How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling College near Fairfield Illinois
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Fairfield IL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some 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. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Fairfield IL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it’s essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Fairfield IL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as 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 cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Fairfield IL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Fairfield IL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Fairfield and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Fairfield IL area and across the USA to select from. That’s why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Fairfield IL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 Fairfield IL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Fairfield IL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Fairfield IL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Fairfield IL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few 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 feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairfield IL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Fairfield IL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Fairfield Illinois area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Fairfield is most famous for being the hometown of the "friendly" people, and the Shelton Brothers Gang; notorious bootleggers who fought it out with the Harrisburg, Illinois based Birger Gang to control criminal activities in Southern Illinois. During the first half of the 20th century gang leaders Carl, Earl and Bernie Shelton made Fairfield a household name. Based on testimony of Charlie Birger himself, the Shelton Brothers were convicted for a 1925 unsolved mail carrier robbery of $15,000 and were sentenced to 25 years. They were released a few years later. Birger dominated bootlegging in Southern Illinois until he himself was hanged in Benton for the murder of West City Mayor Joe Adams in 1928. After serving their time, the Shelton brothers built a new criminal empire. Based out of East St Louis, one of the most prosperous cities of its day, they controlled all vice from Peoria and southward.
They met their demise at the hands of the Chicago mob and an insider Charles "Blackie" Harris. A land dispute led to Blackie joining forces with the Mob to kill off members of the Shelton gang. His most notable victim was Carl Shelton, the leader. He was ambushed several miles southeast of Fairfield, shot from his Jeep. Bernie was killed at his Peoria roadhouse. Earl moved to Jacksonville, Florida and became a successful land speculator.
Senator William Borah, the "Lion of Idaho," was born in Fairfield. Fairfield was the hometown of Kenneth Michael Kays, recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Vietnam War, and Country music singer-songwriter Lance Miller. Carroll C. Boggs, Illinois Supreme Court justice was born in Fairfield. Drue Pearce, Alaska state legislator, was born in Fairfield.
HVAC Certification Courses Fairfield IL
Selecting the right HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC Certification Courses. However, as we have discussed in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Fairfield IL.
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