How to Choose an HVAC Certification Course near Birmingham Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Birmingham AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech in Birmingham AL
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Birmingham AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam 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. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Birmingham AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards 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 study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Birmingham AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Birmingham AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Birmingham and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many 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 online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes near Birmingham AL
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Birmingham AL area and throughout the Country to select from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of important qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Birmingham AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Birmingham AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught together 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 companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Birmingham AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Birmingham AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Birmingham AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Birmingham AL?
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city located in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2017 population of 210,710, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2017, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,149,807, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and at the time a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.
Pick the Right HVAC Trade School near Birmingham AL
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this post, you need to choose a trade 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 ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Birmingham AL.
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