How to Pick the Right HVAC College near West Point Georgia
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near West Point GA. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation completion 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 discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for West Point GA HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it’s imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate 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 explanation of each option offered near West Point GA.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more towards 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in West Point GA, later returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some West Point GA students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from West Point and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the West Point GA area and all over the USA to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the West Point GA area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of West Point GA HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local West Point GA HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local West Point GA HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your West Point GA residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near West Point GA, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near West Point GA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the West Point Georgia area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
West Point, Georgia
West Point is a city in Troup and Harris counties in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 3,474, and in 2015 the estimated population was 3,728. Most of the city is in Troup County, which is part of the LaGrange Micropolitan Statistical Area, and hence part of the Atlanta-Athens-Clarke County-Sandy Springs, GA Combined Statistical Area. A sliver in the south is in Harris County, which is part of the Columbus Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The city's present name comes from its being near the westernmost point of the Chattahoochee River, where the river turns from its southwesterly flow from the Appalachian Mountains to due south – for all practical purposes – and forms the boundary with Alabama. The large nearby reservoir, West Point Lake, was created by the Army Corps of Engineers by the building of the West Point Dam, for water storage and hydroelectric power generation. The reservoir stores water which can be released during dry seasons, in order to maintain the water level of the navigable inland waterway from Columbus, Georgia, south to the Gulf of Mexico.
During the late spring of 2003, there was a flood caused by extremely heavy rainfall and thunderstorms upstream of the West Point Dam; the weather caused the water level in the reservoir to come close to overflowing the top of the dam. There were allegations of poor forecasting by the Corps of Engineers of the reservoir's water levels. The flood water would have overflowed the dam had a large amount of water not been released though the spillway of the dam. Whereas this prevented the catastrophic failure of the West Point Dam, the city endured a flood much more severe than any other in the time since the dam had been built.
HVAC Course West Point GA
Finding the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC Course. However, as we have addressed in this article, you should pick an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices 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 West Point GA.
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