How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Alexander City Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Alexander City AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some 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 discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Alexander City AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Here 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 competency examination and may 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 as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it’s essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Alexander City AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, 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 traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as 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 gaining some experience in the trade in Alexander City AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Alexander City AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Alexander City and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Schools
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Alexander City AL area and across the USA to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Alexander City AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use 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 also that it has the network of Alexander City AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Alexander City AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment 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 working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Alexander City AL HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Alexander City AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can 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 challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alexander City AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Considering an HVAC School near Alexander City AL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Alexander City Alabama area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Alexander City, Alabama
Alexander City, known to locals as "Alex City", is a city in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, United States, with a population of some 14,875. It is known for Lake Martin with its 750 miles (1,210 km) of wooded shoreline and 44,000 acres (18,000 ha) of water. Lake Martin stands on the Tallapoosa River and offers boating, swimming, fishing, golfing, and camping. Many neighborhoods and luxury homes are located on the lake.
Alexander City was incorporated in 1872 as Youngsville, after its founder James Young. In 1873, the Savannah and Memphis Railroad came to the city. The city was renamed in honor of the railroad's President Edward Porter Alexander, hero of the Battle of Gettysburg for the Confederate States.
On June 13, 1902, at 1 pm, a fire broke out in the Alexander City Machine shop and destroyed much of the town. At the time, Alexander City did not have a water system and all buildings, including the telegraph office, post office and three banks were burned.
HVAC Course Alexander City AL
Finding the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC Course. However, as we have discussed in this post, you need to choose an HVAC training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features 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 tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Alexander City AL.
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