How to Pick an HVAC Certification Class near Piedmont Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Piedmont AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional in Piedmont AL
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Piedmont AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Following 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 proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it’s essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Piedmont AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Piedmont AL, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in attaining 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 offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Piedmont AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Piedmont and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. 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 little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses near Piedmont AL
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Piedmont AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. 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 Piedmont AL area have earned 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, such as 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 acquire an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 also that it has the network of Piedmont AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools 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 reviewing have referring relationships with local Piedmont AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Piedmont AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Piedmont AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger 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 students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools 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 Piedmont AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits 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 Piedmont AL?
Piedmont is a city in Calhoun and Cherokee counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. The population was 4,878 at the 2010 census. It is included in the Anniston-Oxford, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area. Many surrounding communities are served by the 36272 ZIP code, including Spring Garden, Rock Run, Knighten's Crossroads, and Nance's Creek. The current mayor is Bill Baker, who was chosen by the city council to lead after elected mayor Rick Freeman resigned due to medical issues.
The area now known as Piedmont is a community that began in the early 1840s, located at the crossroads of two early post roads. Major Jacob Forney Dailey of North Carolina came to Alabama in 1848 and bought land in present-day Piedmont. Major Dailey named the area Cross Plains, and an official post office with that name was established on September 22, 1851.
In Reconstruction-era Alabama, an incident at Cross Plains affected race relations and the future of the northeast section of the state for generations as a result of the lynching of William Luke, a northern missionary, and several other men in 1870. In that year, the new northern-owned railroad to connect Washington, D.C. and the North with New Orleans was to have its headquarters near the small northeast Alabama town, at Patona. After the Ku Klux Klan-led lynchings, however, the headquarters was moved, and the town never achieved the dominant position in Calhoun County, with Anniston, founded the next year, achieving that status instead.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Course near Piedmont AL
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect 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 night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Piedmont AL.
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