How to Find the Right HVAC Program near Westbrook Maine
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Westbrook ME. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Westbrook ME HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned 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 exam 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 made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, although 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 programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Westbrook ME.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees feature 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 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 learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Westbrook ME, later going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, be 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 attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to 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 Westbrook ME students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Westbrook and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Westbrook ME area and all over the Country to choose from. That’s why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Westbrook ME area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Westbrook ME HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training 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 inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Westbrook ME HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Westbrook ME HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Westbrook ME residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Westbrook ME, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Westbrook ME?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Westbrook Maine area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Westbrook is a city in Cumberland County, Maine, United States and a suburb of Portland. The population was 17,494 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Portland–South Portland–Biddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area.
Originally known as Saccarappa after Saccarappa Falls on the Presumpscot River, it was a part of Falmouth until February 14, 1814, when it was set off and incorporated as Stroudwater. It soon changed its name to Westbrook after Colonel Thomas Westbrook, a commander during Father Rale's War and King's mast agent who was an early settler and mill operator. In 1871, Saccarappa amicably split into two municipalities; the current Westbrook and Deering, which was then annexed by Portland in 1898. In 1891, Westbrook was incorporated as a city.
Saccarappa Falls and Congin Falls provided water power for early mills within the city. In 1829, a sawmill was built at the former which made the mill town noted for its lumber. Other industries followed, manufacturing grain bags, machinery and water wheels, carriage and harness, boots, shoes and moccasins, tinware, leather board, bricks, wooden boxes, box shook, meal and flour. The Portland Manufacturing Company built a cotton textile mill at Saccarappa Falls for making "sheetings, stripes and ducks." A paper mill was built at Cumberland Mills, once an Indian planting ground known as Ammoncongin. By 1859, it produced 1,000 tons of paper annually. In 1867, the factory's name would change to the S. D. Warren Paper Mill.
Training HVAC Technician Westbrook ME
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Training HVAC Technician. However, as we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect 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. In addition, inquire 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 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 informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Westbrook ME.
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