How to Choose HVAC Degree Programs Colfax LA

How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Colfax Louisiana

air conditioner condensers in Colfax LAOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Colfax LA. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

Colfax LA HVAC Tech installing water heaterHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Colfax LA HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency 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 as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it’s imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

radiator heater in Colfax LA homeThere are a number of options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Colfax LA.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide 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 and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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.

Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Colfax LA, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Colfax LA student attending HVAC school onlineAttending an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical 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 may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Colfax LA students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Colfax and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. 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 little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Questions to ask Colfax LA HVAC training schoolsAs soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Colfax LA area and all over the United States to select from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Colfax LA area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Colfax LA HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Colfax LA HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Colfax LA HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Colfax LA home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Colfax LA, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Considering an HVAC School near Colfax LA?

Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Colfax Louisiana area.  If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.

Colfax, Louisiana

Colfax is a town in, and the parish seat of, Grant Parish, Louisiana, United States,[5] founded in 1869. Colfax is part of the Alexandria, Louisiana metropolitan area. The largely African American population of Colfax counted 1,558 at the 2010 census.[6]

Colfax was settled by European Americans as a Red River port within Rapides Parish. It is named for the vice president of the United States, Schuyler M. Colfax, who served in the first term of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, for whom the parish is named. Prior to the Civil War, it was known as "Calhoun's Landing", named for the cotton and sugar planter Meredith Calhoun, a native of South Carolina. who published the former National Democrat newspaper in Colfax.[7]

During the Reconstruction Era, Colfax was the scene of the Colfax massacre on Easter, April 13, 1873. Some three white attackers and about 150 African Americans were killed in one of the most egregious acts of terrorism during Reconstruction.[8] A white militia was led against freedmen by Christopher Columbus Nash, elected sheriff on a Fusionist/Democratic slate. Freedmen were defending Republican officials at the county courthouse and had gathered there as tensions rose in a post-election dispute. A contemporary report by the U.S. military documented the three white fatalities and 105 black victims by name, with 15-20 unidentified blacks found in the Red River.[9][10] Because of the disproportionate number of deaths between whites and blacks, and documented accounts that at least 50 black prisoners were executed while under control of the white militia, 20th-century historians redefined the "riot" as a "massacre". The event is significant because blacks, who comprised the majority in the county, organized to defend themselves and their political rights.

How to Choose HVAC Degree Programs Colfax LA

Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding How to Choose HVAC Degree Programs. However, as we have addressed in this article, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on 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 faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper 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 informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Colfax LA.

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