How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Class near Columbia Illinois
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Columbia IL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many future students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details 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 other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Columbia IL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few 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 proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical 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, usually completed in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Columbia IL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for 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 ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Columbia IL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Columbia IL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Columbia and study materials may be lessened, 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 obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Columbia IL area and all over the United States to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Columbia IL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved 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 finish the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Columbia IL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Columbia IL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Columbia IL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Columbia IL 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 desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
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 in the evening or on weekends near Columbia IL, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Columbia IL?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Columbia Illinois area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Columbia is a city mainly in Monroe County with a small portion in St. Clair County in the U.S. state of Illinois, about 12 miles (19 km) south of St. Louis, Missouri. The population was 9,707 at the 2010 census.
The first white settlers to come to the area of Columbia, Illinois, were Frenchmen in the mid-17th century. They named the area in which Columbia was founded L'Aigle, which is French for "The Eagle."
In the mid-18th century, the British took over the territory until the Revolutionary War forced them out of the area. The colonial American settlers soon arrived in the early 1780s and established the first permanent settlements in the area of Columbia, Fort Whiteside and Fort Piggott. Both frontier forts were of log construction and were used to protect the settlers against Indian raids.
HVAC Associates Degree Columbia IL
Selecting the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC Associates Degree. However, as we have discussed in this post, you should select an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Columbia IL.
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