How to Select the Right HVAC Program near Silver Spring Maryland
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Silver Spring MD. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to obtain the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate 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 within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Silver Spring MD HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can 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 together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Silver Spring MD.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, many 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Silver Spring MD, later going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide 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 participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Silver Spring MD students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Silver Spring and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Silver Spring MD area and throughout the United States to select from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Silver Spring MD area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, 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 Cooling 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 low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Silver Spring MD HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational 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 reviewing have referring relationships with local Silver Spring MD HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Silver Spring MD HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Silver Spring MD home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few 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 programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Silver Spring MD, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Considering an HVAC School near Silver Spring MD?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Silver Spring Maryland area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Silver Spring is an unincorporated community and census-designated place located inside the Capital Beltway in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It had a population of 76,716 according to 2013 estimates by the United States Census Bureau, making it the fourth most populous place in Maryland, after Baltimore, Columbia, and Germantown, and the second largest in Montgomery County after Germantown. Inner Silver Spring consists of the following neighborhoods: Downtown Silver Spring, East Silver Spring, Woodside, North Woodside, Woodside Park, North Hills Sligo Park, Long Branch, Montgomery Knolls, Franklin Knolls, Indian Spring Terrace, Indian Spring Village, Clifton Park Village, New Hampshire Estates, Oakview, and Woodmoor. Outer Silver Spring consist of the following neighborhoods: Four Corners, Wheaton, Glenmont, Forest Glen, Aspen Hill, Hillandale, White Oak, Colesville, Colesville Park, Cloverly, Calverton, Briggs Chaney, Greencastle, Northwood Park, Sunset Terrace, Fairland, Lyttonsville, and Kemp Mill.
The urbanized, oldest, and southernmost part of Silver Spring is a major business hub that lies at the north apex of Washington, D.C. As of 2004, the Central Business District (CBD) held 7,254,729 square feet (673,986 m2) of office space, 5216 dwelling units and 17.6 acres (71,000 m2) of parkland. The population density of this CBD area of Silver Spring was 15,600 per square mile all within 360 acres (1.5 km2) and approximately 2.5 square miles (6 km2) in the CBD/downtown area. The community has recently undergone a significant renaissance, with the addition of major retail, residential, and office developments.
Silver Spring takes its name from a mica-flecked spring discovered there in 1840 by Francis Preston Blair, who subsequently bought much of the surrounding land. Acorn Park, tucked away in an area of south Silver Spring away from the main downtown area, is believed to be the site of the original spring.
Air Condition Training Silver Spring MD
Choosing the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Air Condition Training. However, as we have covered in this post, you need to pick an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try 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 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 laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Silver Spring MD.
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