How to Pick the Right HVAC School near Potterville Michigan
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Potterville MI. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant concerns, 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. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Potterville MI HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory 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.
Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it’s imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically 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 appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Potterville MI.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Potterville MI, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Potterville MI students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Potterville and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities 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 active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Potterville MI area and all over the USA to choose from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Potterville MI area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire 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 school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 Potterville MI HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Potterville MI HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools 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 technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Potterville MI HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Potterville MI home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher 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 monitor some 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 comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Potterville MI, 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. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Potterville MI?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Potterville Michigan area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Potterville is named after Linus Potter, who settled his family in the area in November, 1844. Linus was elected supervisor of Benton Township in 1846. In 1830, Linus and his wife Diantha came from Cayuga County, New York, by way of the Erie Canal, to Buffalo and then by way of Lake Erie steamboat to Detroit. From there, Linus and Diantha walked to Plymouth, Michigan, a journey of about thirty miles, before walking on to Saline. The pair carried their three-year-old son, George, and their infant daughter, Louisa.
A rare Michigan earthquake on September 2, 1994, had its epicenter just east of the city. The shock had a body wave magnitude of 3.5 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of V (Moderate). It could be felt through most of Mid-Michigan.
The city experienced a massive train derailment of 35 Canadian National railroad cars over Memorial Day weekend 2002. Due to leaking propane from the cars, the entire city was evacuated. The cause of the derailment was found to have been a faulty rail.
How to Choose HVAC Training Programs Potterville MI
Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding How to Choose HVAC Training Programs. However, as we have covered in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Potterville MI.
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