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School for Air Conditioning and Heating Fultondale AL

How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Training near Fultondale Alabama

air conditioner condensers in Fultondale ALNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Fultondale AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC training program, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

Fultondale AL HVAC Tech installing water heaterHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Fultondale AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it’s essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

radiator heater in Fultondale AL homeThere are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically completed in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Fultondale AL.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Fultondale AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Fultondale AL student attending HVAC school onlineChoosing an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many 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 approach may be a more accessible solution for many Fultondale AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Fultondale and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little 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 Certification Classes

Questions to ask Fultondale AL HVAC training schoolsAs soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Fultondale AL area and across the United States to choose from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical schools in the Fultondale AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC 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 may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Fultondale AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction 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 Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Fultondale AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Fultondale AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fultondale AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in 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 important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fultondale AL, verify that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Considering an HVAC School near Fultondale AL?

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

Fultondale, Alabama

This area was once known as Fulton Springs. Prior to the building of Interstate 65, US 31 was the main route for travelers northbound from Birmingham towards Nashville, Tennessee. As a result, hotels such as the Keystone Lodge and Buchmann Motor Inn prospered. On the city's southern edge was located one of the few drive-in theatres in the Birmingham area (the "Skyview"). This was torn down when I-65 was built in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Pine Bowl bowling alley is still a long time fixture in the city.Traces of the old routing of US 31 are still noticeable in the city. From just south of the city hall to an old bridge on this city's northern side, most of this old routing is known as Stouts Road or in some cases simply "old US 31."[6]

Fultondale was a relatively stagnant community until the last decade. Growth has occurred in residential areas mainly west of Interstate 65, while retail development has focused along and near the I-65/Walkers Chapel Road exit.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.2 square miles (32 km2), all land. Fultondale is located along one of the many ridgelines that comprise the southern end of the Appalachian Mountain chain. The area has been thoroughly mined for coal and other minerals in the past 100 years. The city is served by two major north/south highways, Interstate 65 and US Highway 31. The new Interstate 22 encroaches on the city's western edge and on June 20, 2016, the interchange with I-65 just south of Fultondale opened. I-22 will provide direct interstate access to Memphis, Tennessee. Upon completion of Interstate 22, Fultondale will become the fourth Alabama city (after Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile) to be directly served by more than one two-digit interstate highway (I-65 & I-22). The only east/west thoroughfare of note is Walkers Chapel Road (west of US 31) and New Castle Road (east of US 31). Rail lines run north/south along the city's eastern edge from Boyles Yard in Tarrant to points north and east. Air travel is available from nearby Birmingham International Airport.

School for Air Conditioning and Heating Fultondale AL

Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding School for Air Conditioning and Heating. However, as we have covered in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore 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. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right 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 educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Fultondale AL.

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