How to Choose the Right HVAC Training Program near Highland Park Illinois
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Highland Park IL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Highland Park IL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are offered. Following 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it’s important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most 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 provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Highland Park IL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial 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 detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 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.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Highland Park IL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Highland Park IL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Highland Park and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Highland Park 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 comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Highland Park IL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but also that it has the network of Highland Park IL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Highland Park IL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional 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 using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Highland Park IL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Highland Park IL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure 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 Highland Park IL, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Highland Park IL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Highland Park Illinois area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Highland Park, Illinois
Highland Park is an affluent suburban city in Lake County, Illinois, United States, about 25 miles (40 km) north of downtown Chicago. As of the 2016 population estimate, the population was 29,641. Highland Park is one of several municipalities located on the North Shore of the Chicago metropolitan area.
In 1867, ten men purchased Highland Park for $39,198.70. They were the original stockholders of the Highland Park Building Company. Following construction of the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad, a depot was established at Highland Park and a plat, extending south to Central Avenue, was laid out in 1856. Highland Park was established as a city on March 11, 1869, with a population of 500, and evolved from two settlements—St. John and Port Clinton. Highland Park was named from its parklike setting at a lofty elevation relative to the lake, and was given its name from Walter S. Gurnee. The town annexed the village of Ravinia in 1899.
Highland Park has several attractions including a vibrant downtown shopping district and the Ravinia Festival. Ravinia Festival is an open-air pavilion seating 3,200, which hosts classical, pop and jazz concerts in the summers. It has been the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1936. Concert-goers can purchase seats in the covered pavilion or tickets to sit on the lawn. Many visitors arrive early and picnic on the lawn before and during concerts. The festival is located in Ravinia District, originally an artists' colony, which still retains much of its early character and architecture.
Heat Ventilation and Air Conditioning Courses Highland Park IL
Picking the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Heat Ventilation and Air Conditioning Courses. However, as we have addressed in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not 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 laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Highland Park IL.
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