How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Course near The Plains Virginia
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near The Plains VA. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for The Plains VA HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near The Plains VA.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in The Plains VA, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many The Plains VA students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from The Plains and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the The Plains VA area and throughout the Country to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the The Plains VA area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 additionally that it has the network of The Plains VA HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local The Plains VA HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local The Plains VA HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your The Plains VA home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much one-on-one 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 observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near The Plains VA, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Considering an HVAC School near The Plains VA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the The Plains Virginia area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
The Plains, Virginia
The Plains is a town in Fauquier County, Virginia, United States. The population was 217 at the 2010 census, down from 266 at the 2000 census. It is centered on the intersection of Virginia Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) and Virginia Route 245 (Old Tavern Road). The town of The Plains, Virginia is situated off of Interstate 66. The mayor of The Plains is Blake Gallagher.
The Plains is located in northeastern Fauquier County at 38°51′46″N 77°46′32″W / 38.86278°N 77.77556°W / 38.86278; -77.77556 (38.862698, -77.775464). VA 55 leads southeast 10 miles (16 km) to Gainesville and west 4.5 miles (7.2 km) to Marshall. VA 245 leads southwest 1 mile (1.6 km) to Interstate 66 at Exit 31. I-66 leads east 45 miles (72 km) to Washington, D.C. and west 24 miles (39 km) to Front Royal.
Highways directly serving The Plains include Virginia State Route 55 and Virginia State Route 245. SR 55 extends east and west, serving as a local service road to nearby Interstate 66, while SR 245 provides the most direct connection to I-66 from The Plains.
Degree In HVAC The Plains VA
Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Degree In HVAC. However, as we have discussed in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating 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 contractor in The Plains VA.
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