How to Enroll In an HVAC School near Bessemer Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Bessemer AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of potential 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 significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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 criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let’s look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor in Bessemer AL
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Bessemer AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged 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 technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned 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 needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary 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.
Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it’s important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Bessemer AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Bessemer AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Bessemer AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Bessemer and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses near Bessemer AL
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Bessemer AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Bessemer AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Bessemer AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Bessemer AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Bessemer AL HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Bessemer AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and learn 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 reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Bessemer AL, check that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Attending HVAC School near Bessemer AL?
Bessemer is a city southwest of Birmingham in Jefferson County, Alabama, United States. The population was 27,456 at the 2010 Census. It is within the Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area, of which Jefferson County is the center. It developed rapidly as an industrial city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The town was founded in the postbellum era by the Bessemer Land and Improvement Company, named after Henry Bessemer and owned by coal magnate Henry F. DeBardeleben. He had inherited Daniel Pratt's investments. The mayor and councilmen voted to incorporate the city of Bessemer on September 9, 1887. Located 16 miles southwest of Birmingham, Bessemer grew rapidly and its promoters believed that it might overtake the other city in economic power.
Given the iron ore, coal and limestone deposits in the area, the city became a center of steelmaking from about 1890 through the 20th century. It attracted rural migrants from across the South, as well as European immigrants. By the 1950s, the city was majority African American in population.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Certification Training near Bessemer AL
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should choose a technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Bessemer AL.
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