How to Find the Right HVAC School near Fulton Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Fulton AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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 benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech in Fulton AL
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Fulton AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required 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. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it’s imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, often completed in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train 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 in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Fulton AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate 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 four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Fulton AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer 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 accessible solution for some Fulton AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Fulton and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools near Fulton AL
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Fulton AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That’s why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Fulton AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Fulton AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Fulton AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Fulton AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Fulton AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Fulton AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Fulton AL?
As of the census of 2000, there were 308 people, 122 households, and 87 families residing in the town. The population density was 123.6 people per square mile (47.8/km²). There were 139 housing units at an average density of 55.8 per square mile (21.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 82.14% White and 17.86% Black or African American.
There were 122 households out of which 38.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.0% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.9% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the town, the population was spread out with 28.2% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.2 males.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Course near Fulton AL
Choosing the right HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this post, you should choose a vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are lots 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 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Fulton AL.
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