How to Pick the Right HVAC School near Westlake Louisiana
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Westlake LA. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things 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 addressed 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 cooling contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Westlake LA HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected 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 attained by passing a competency examination and may be earned 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 exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it’s imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Westlake LA.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Westlake LA, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Westlake LA students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Westlake and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Westlake LA area and all over the United States to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Westlake LA area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, 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 approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent 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 broader list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Westlake LA HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Westlake LA HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using 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. If not, ask a local Westlake LA HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Westlake LA residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger 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 instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Westlake LA, verify that the programs you are reviewing 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, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Considering an HVAC School near Westlake LA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Westlake Louisiana area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Westlake is a city in Calcasieu Parish, in western Louisiana, United States, and is part of the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 4,568 at the 2010 census. Westlake was incorporated in 1945.
Westlake is located in east-central Calcasieu Parish at 30°14′54″N 93°15′33″W / 30.24833°N 93.25917°W / 30.24833; -93.25917 (30.248455, -93.259047), on the west bank of the Calcasieu River, just north of that river's entry into the water body of Lake Charles. The city of Lake Charles borders Westlake across the river, connected via the Interstate 10 bridge.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Westlake has a total area of 3.71 square miles (9.60 km2), of which 3.65 square miles (9.46 km2) is land and 0.05 square miles (0.14 km2), or 1.49%, is water.
Air Conditioning Trade Schools Westlake LA
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Air Conditioning Trade Schools. However, as we have discussed in this article, you need to select an HVAC school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to 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 training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Westlake LA.
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