How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Fairhope Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Fairhope AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just 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 benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Fairhope AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required 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 provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs 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 can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Fairhope AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, some 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 or even 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 learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Fairhope AL, 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 Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Fairhope AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Fairhope and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Fairhope AL area and across the USA to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Fairhope AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual 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 example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may produce 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Fairhope AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Fairhope AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain 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 Fairhope AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Fairhope AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive 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 instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairhope AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Fairhope AL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Fairhope Alabama area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Fairhope is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States, on a sloping plateau, along the cliffs and shoreline of Mobile Bay. The 2010 census lists the population of the city as 15,326. Fairhope is a principal city of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley micropolitan area, which includes all of Baldwin County. In 2016, Fairhope was named the best small town in the South by Southern Living magazine.
Fairhope was founded in November 1894 on the site of the former Alabama City as a radical Georgist "Single-Tax" colony by the Fairhope Industrial Association, a group of 28 followers of economist Henry George who had incorporated earlier that year in Des Moines, Iowa. Their corporate constitution explained their purpose in founding a new colony:
In forming their demonstration project, they pooled their funds to purchase land at "Stapleton's pasture" on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and then divided it into a number of long-term leaseholds. The corporation paid all governmental taxes from rents paid by the lessees, thus simulating a single-tax. The purpose of the single-tax colony was to eliminate disincentives for productive use of land and thereby retain the value of land for the community.
HVAC Colleges Fairhope AL
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial 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 HVAC Colleges. 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Fairhope AL.
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