How to Find the Right HVAC School near Ridgeland South Carolina
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Ridgeland SC. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Ridgeland SC
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Ridgeland SC HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained 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. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination 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 exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Ridgeland SC.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited 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.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Ridgeland SC, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number 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 may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Ridgeland SC students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Ridgeland and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools 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 online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes near Ridgeland SC
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Ridgeland SC area and across the United States to choose from. That’s why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Ridgeland SC area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate 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 finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Ridgeland SC HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Ridgeland SC HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Ridgeland SC HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Ridgeland SC residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Ridgeland SC, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Ridgeland SC?
Ridgeland, South Carolina
Ridgeland is a town in Jasper County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 4,036 at the 2010 census, a 60% increase from 2000. It has been the county seat of Jasper County since its formation in 1912. As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, Ridgeland is included within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Ridgeland was originally known as Gopher Hill in 1894, derived from the "gopher tortoise," which is indigenous to the area but that name was not considered good enough for a new railroad station so it was changed to Ridgeland in 1902 for the fact the town stands upon the highest hill between Charleston and Savannah.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,518 people (2,612 in 2004 estimate), 517 households, and 332 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,046.6 people per square mile (403.4/km²). There were 597 housing units at an average density of 248.1 per square mile (95.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 44.64% White, 49.17% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.75% Asian, 4.69% from other races, and 0.60% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.63% of the population.
Pick the Right HVAC Training Classes near Ridgeland SC
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. 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 remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Ridgeland SC.
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