How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Kalamazoo Michigan
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Kalamazoo MI. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Kalamazoo MI HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it’s essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often completed in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train 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 for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Kalamazoo MI.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four 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, as well as 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 acquiring some experience in the field in Kalamazoo MI, eventually going back to obtain 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 Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Kalamazoo MI students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Kalamazoo and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Kalamazoo MI area and across the Country to pick from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Kalamazoo MI area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Kalamazoo MI HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Kalamazoo MI HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Kalamazoo MI HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Kalamazoo MI home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few 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 degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Kalamazoo MI, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Considering an HVAC School near Kalamazoo MI?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Kalamazoo Michigan area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Kalamazoo /ˌkæləməˈzuː/ is a city in the southwest region of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Kalamazoo County. As of the 2010 census, Kalamazoo had a population of 74,262. Kalamazoo is the major city of the Kalamazoo-Portage Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 335,340 as of 2015. Kalamazoo is equidistant from the major American cities of Chicago and Detroit, each less than 150 miles away.
One of Kalamazoo's most notable features is the Kalamazoo Mall, an outdoor pedestrian shopping mall. The city created the mall in 1959 by closing part of Burdick Street to auto traffic, although two of the mall's four blocks have been reopened to auto traffic since 1999. Kalamazoo is home to Western Michigan University, a large public university, Kalamazoo College, a private liberal arts college, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, a two-year community college.
Originally known as Bronson (after founder Titus Bronson) in the township of Arcadia, the names of both the city and the township were changed to "Kalamazoo" in 1836 and 1837, respectively. The Kalamazoo name comes from a Potawatomi word, first found in a British report in 1772. However, the Kalamazoo River, which passes through the modern city of Kalamazoo, was located on the route between Detroit and Fort Saint-Joseph (nowadays Niles, Michigan). French-Canadian traders, missionaries, and military personnel were quite familiar with this area during the French era and thereafter. The name for the Kalamazoo River was then known by Canadians and French as La rivière Kikanamaso. The name "Kikanamaso" was also recorded by Father Pierre Potier, a Jesuit missionary for the Huron-Wendats at the Assumption mission (south shore of Detroit), while en route to Fort Saint-Joseph during the fall of 1760. Legend has it that "Ki-ka-ma-sung," meaning "boiling water," referring to a footrace held each fall by local Native Americans, who had to run to the river and back before the pot boiled. Another theory is that it means "the mirage or reflecting river". Another legend is that the image of "boiling water" referred to fog on the river as seen from the hills above the current downtown. The name was also given to the river that flows almost all the way across the state.
HVAC Certification Schools Kalamazoo MI
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC Certification Schools. However, as we have discussed in this article, you should pick an HVAC trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Kalamazoo MI.
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