How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Arlington Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Arlington AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
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 commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Arlington AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it’s essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically completed in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Arlington AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, some degrees include 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 traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Arlington AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Arlington AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Arlington and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Schools
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Arlington AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Arlington AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training course 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 of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train 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 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 validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Arlington AL HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Arlington AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable 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. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Arlington AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Arlington AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much personalized instruction 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 observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Arlington AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Considering an HVAC School near Arlington AL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Arlington Alabama area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Arlington County, Virginia
Arlington County is a county in the Commonwealth of Virginia, often referred to simply as Arlington or Arlington, Virginia. In 2016, the county's population was estimated at 230,050, making it the sixth-largest county in Virginia, or the fourth-largest city if it were incorporated as such. It is the 5th highest-income county in the U.S. by median family income and has the highest concentration of singles in the region.
The county is coterminous with the U.S. Census Bureau's census-designated place of Arlington. Though a county, it is also treated as the second-largest principal city of the Washington metropolitan area.
The county is situated in Northern Virginia on the southwestern bank of the Potomac River directly across from the District of Columbia, of which it was once a part. With a land area of 26 square miles (67 km2), Arlington is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the U.S., and by reason of state law regarding population density, has no incorporated towns within its borders. Due to the county's proximity to downtown Washington, D.C., Arlington is home to many important installations for the capital region and U.S. government, including the Pentagon, Reagan National Airport, and Arlington National Cemetery. Many schools and universities have campuses in Arlington, most prominently the Antonin Scalia Law School of George Mason University.
Heating and Cooling School Arlington AL
Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Heating and Cooling School. However, as we have discussed in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Arlington AL.
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