How to Select an HVAC Certification Course near Theodore Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Theodore AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let’s take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional in Theodore AL
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Theodore AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with 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 specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it’s essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often completed in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Theodore AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Theodore AL, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most 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 instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Theodore AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Theodore and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments 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 lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes near Theodore AL
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Theodore AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Theodore AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school 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 ensure that you get a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly important 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 can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Theodore AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Theodore AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Theodore AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Theodore AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Theodore AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Theodore AL?
Theodore is a census-designated place (CDP) in Mobile County, Alabama, United States. The population was 6,130 at the 2010 census. It is a part of the Mobile metropolitan statistical area. Prior to 1900 this area was known as Clements, but is now named for William Theodore Hieronymous (a sawmill operator and postmaster).
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,811 people, 2,483 households, and 1,926 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 571.6 people per square mile (220.6/km²). There were 2,697 housing units at an average density of 226.3 per square mile (87.4/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 71.11% White, 25.58% Black or African American, 0.62% Native American, 1.29% Asian, 0.41% from other races, and 1.00% from two or more races. 1.38% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,483 households out of which 38.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 19.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.4% were non-families. 19.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.11.
Choose the Right HVAC Trade School near Theodore AL
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select a technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not 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 comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down 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 contractor in Theodore AL.
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