How to Choose the Right HVAC Program near South Haven Michigan
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near South Haven MI. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation 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 tackle how to select an HVAC technical school, let’s take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled 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 provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for South Haven MI HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned 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. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it’s essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, though 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 can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near South Haven MI.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more towards 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in South Haven MI, later going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some South Haven MI students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from South Haven and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. 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 little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the South Haven MI area and all over the USA to select from. That’s why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the South Haven MI area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance 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 in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of South Haven MI HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools 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 South Haven MI HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local South Haven MI HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your South Haven MI home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn 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 handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near South Haven MI, check that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, 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 South Haven MI?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the South Haven Michigan area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
South Haven, Michigan
Because of its position on Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Black River, South Haven has always been a port city. During settlement, major ship lines stopped there, both passenger and freight. In the early 1900s South Haven became a resort town, sometimes referred to as "The Catskills of the Midwest". South Haven is a major regional tourist draw because of its recreational harbor and beaches. It is the western terminus of the Kal-Haven Trail, popular with bicyclists and snowmobilers. Nearby are Van Buren State Park and the Van Buren Trail State Park.
Prior to colonization by white settlers, the area was inhabited at different times by Potawatomi and Iroquois native people. In 1833, the U.S. government granted Jay R. Monroe a land patent for 65 acres of land along the shore of Lake Michigan. In the 1850s the first permanent settlers arrived, and early in the decade the first steam sawmills were built on the Black River. About this time, the settlement gained its first merchant, physician, lawyer, and minister, and the first schoolhouse was built. The first bank was organized in 1867. South Haven was incorporated as a village in 1869, and as a city in 1902.
In 1853, the first hotel in South Haven, known as the Forest House, was built at the corner of Phoenix and Center Streets. The building was subsequently moved a few doors south and still stands, though greatly modified, and no longer used as a hotel.
HVAC Courses Online South Haven MI
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC Courses Online. However, as we have covered in this article, you should pick an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in South Haven MI.
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