How to Select an HVAC School near Dixons Mills Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Dixons Mills AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 additional criteria 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 a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician in Dixons Mills AL
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Dixons Mills AL HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can 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 as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it’s essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Dixons Mills AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, some 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Dixons Mills AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Dixons Mills AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Dixons Mills and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs near Dixons Mills AL
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Dixons Mills AL area and throughout the Country to pick from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Dixons Mills AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Dixons Mills AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Dixons Mills AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Dixons Mills AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Dixons Mills AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Dixons Mills AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
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Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Course near Dixons Mills AL
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk 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 choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Dixons Mills AL.
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