How to Pick an HVAC Certification Class near Rainbow City Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Rainbow City AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion 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 within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro in Rainbow City AL
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Rainbow City AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be acquired 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 examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it’s important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Rainbow City AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level 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 supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, some 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 traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Rainbow City AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many 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 on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Rainbow City AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Rainbow City and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses near Rainbow City AL
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Rainbow City AL area and throughout the Country to pick from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Rainbow City AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Rainbow City AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Rainbow City AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Rainbow City AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Rainbow City AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Rainbow City AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Rainbow City AL?
Rainbow City, Alabama
This city was named after U.S. Highway 411, called Rainbow Drive, which runs through the middle of the city. Some of the older citizens say it was named after the US 42nd Infantry Division, known as the "Rainbow Division".
As early as 1818, families from the Carolinas and Georgia began to migrate to the area and homestead land near the Coosa River. Hernando de Soto's troops were the first visitors to the area in 1540, and today a bridge stands where the Pensacola Trading Path crossed the Coosa River. A paved highway now traces the trail that was cut from Nashville to Horseshoe Bend by Andrew Jackson on his way to fight the Creek Native Americans in what is now known as the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.
Originally called "Coosa Bend", the area was later called "Morgan's Cross Road". It was located at the intersection of the Gadsden-Ashville Road and Gilbert's Ferry Road. The land was passed from Edmond Jones to his son Clayton, who never married. When he died, the land passed to his sister, Luvica Morgan, who was also the wife of William Morgan.
Choose the Right HVAC Training Course near Rainbow City AL
Choosing the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this post, you should choose a trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. 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 proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Rainbow City AL.
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