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Learn Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Windham ME

How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling College near Windham Maine

air conditioner condensers in Windham MEOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Windham ME. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Many future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Pro

Windham ME HVAC Tech installing water heaterHVAC 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 air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Windham ME HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired 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 need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple 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 additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it’s important that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Classes

radiator heater in Windham ME homeThere are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often achieved in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Windham ME.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study 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 invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Windham ME, later going back to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Courses

Windham ME student attending HVAC school onlineEnrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Windham ME students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Windham and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal 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 Training Classes

Questions to ask Windham ME HVAC training schoolsOnce you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Windham ME area and across the USA to pick from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Windham ME area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are 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 an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Windham ME HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical 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 Windham ME HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Windham ME HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Windham ME home. Take note that if you decide to attend 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 individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Windham ME, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Considering an HVAC School near Windham ME?

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

Windham, Maine

Windham is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. The population was 17,001 at the 2010 census. It includes the villages of South Windham and North Windham. It is part of the Portland–South Portland–Biddeford, Maine Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The township was granted in 1734 by the Massachusetts General Court to Abraham Howard, Joseph Blaney and 58 others from Marblehead, Massachusetts. In 1737, New Marblehead Plantation was settled by Captain Thomas Chute. By order of the Massachusetts General Court, a fort was built in spring of 1744 on a hill in the southern part of town near the early center of settlement to offer protection during King George's War. A 50-foot square blockhouse constructed of 12-inch thick hewn hemlock had an overhanging second story with firing ports and two swivel guns in watch posts on diagonal corners. The blockhouse was surrounded by a stockade wall of 12-inch diameter log posts 16 feet long. The single gate through the stockade wall was covered by a 4.2-inch (11 cm) bore 9-pounder cannon within the blockhouse.[4]

The town's inhabitants took shelter in the stockade between 1745 and 1751. The last Indian attack on the town occurred on May 14, 1756. New Marblehead Plantation was incorporated on June 12, 1762 as Windham, named for Wymondham in Norfolk, England.[5] Windham Minutemen marched to Portland in response to the Burning of Falmouth on 18 October 1775 and sixteen men were drafted from the town for the Penobscot Expedition. Thirteen Windham men are reported as being members of the Continental Army with George Washington's American Revolutionary War winter encampment at Valley Forge.[4] Windham's 9-pounder cannon and one swivel gun from the stockade blockhouse were loaned to Portland in 1775. Portland had refused to surrender these guns to Captain Henry Mowat as he demanded before he burned the town; and they were placed aboard the privateer Reprieve in 1776.[6]

Learn Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Windham ME

Choosing the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Learn Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. However, as we have addressed in this post, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Windham ME.

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