How to Choose the Right HVAC Degree Program near Tuscumbia Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Tuscumbia AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation 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 examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Tuscumbia AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some 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. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, often completed in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Tuscumbia AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, some degrees incorporate 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 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Tuscumbia AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer 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 online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Tuscumbia AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Tuscumbia and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Tuscumbia AL area and all over the United States to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Tuscumbia AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Tuscumbia AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides 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 trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscumbia AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Tuscumbia AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscumbia AL, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Considering an HVAC School near Tuscumbia AL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Tuscumbia Alabama area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Tuscumbia was the hometown of Helen Keller (Ivy Green) and much of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Tuscumbia Historic District. The city serves as the location for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Tuscumbia had its beginnings when the Michael Dixon family arrived about 1816. They traded with Chief Tucumseh for the Tuscumbia Valley and built their home at the head of the big spring. From these humble dwellings quickly developed a village known as the Big Spring Community. The men of the community requested that the state legislature incorporate them as a city. The town was incorporated in 1820 as Ococoposa and is one of Alabama's oldest towns. In 1821, its name was changed to Big Spring and on December 22, 1822, to Tuscumbia, after the Chief Rainmaker of the Chickasaws.
Although shoals on the nearby Tennessee River made the river nearly impassable, a federal highway completed in 1820 provided the area with good access to markets. Tuscumbia soon became the center for agriculture in northern Alabama. A line to the town on the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad was completed in 1832, and by 1850 Tuscumbia was a major railroad hub for train traffic throughout the South.
Air Conditioning Program Tuscumbia AL
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Air Conditioning Program. However, as we have covered in this post, you should choose an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices 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 appropriate questions as we have laid out 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 commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Tuscumbia AL.
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