How to Select an HVAC School near Valrico Florida
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Valrico FL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you need? Many future students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few 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 additional benchmarks 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 specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional in Valrico FL
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Valrico FL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are available. Here 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 exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it’s important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, though some programs 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 programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Valrico FL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, many 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Valrico FL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for 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 rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Valrico FL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Valrico and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes near Valrico FL
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Valrico FL area and across the Country to select from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Valrico FL area have received 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 example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Valrico FL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Valrico FL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form 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 using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Valrico FL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Valrico FL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Valrico FL, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Valrico FL?
Before the Civil War, the area was known as "Long Pond" and consisted of several cotton plantations. It was renamed "Valrico", meaning "rich valley" in Spanish, in the 1880s when William G. Tousey, a philosophy professor from Tufts College, purchased property in the area. In 1890, an influx of immigrants arrived, following the construction of the Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad through the area.
When the railroad was completed, Tousey began building up the community with retail stores, streets, and a bank. In 1895, a major freeze halted these developments, and the population began to dwindle. Nonetheless, the town continued to press on, with a schoolhouse being completed in 1896. The population continued to fall drastically, from 100 people in 1893 to only 50 in 1911.
This setback did not deter local landowners from pushing forward with the town's development. Between 1910-1914 Judge Hamner, Governor Van Sant, D. Humbird, W.H., S.C. Phipps and W.F. Miller started an improvement project along Hopewell Road, later designated SR 60. W.F. Miller, serving as president of the Valrico Improvement Association, raised $3,500 to erect the Valrico Civic Center, now known as the James McCabe Theatre. The area's first general store was opened by Lovett Brandon in 1912.
Select the Right HVAC Training Course near Valrico FL
Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this post, you need to choose a school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak 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 evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Valrico FL.
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