How to Choose an HVAC Training Class near Hartselle Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Hartselle AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors 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 benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Hartselle AL
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Hartselle AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may 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 must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it’s important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of 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 period of time, usually achieved 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 applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Hartselle AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, some 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Hartselle AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also provide 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 attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Hartselle AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Hartselle and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous 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, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs near Hartselle AL
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree 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 technical schools in the Hartselle AL area and across the Country to choose from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Hartselle AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual 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. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Hartselle AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Hartselle AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus 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 technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Hartselle AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Hartselle AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Hartselle AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Hartselle AL?
Hartselle is the second largest city in Morgan County, Alabama, United States, about 10 miles (16 km) south of Decatur, and is included in the Decatur Metropolitan Area, and the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area.
As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of the city was 14,255. Hartselle was founded in 1870 with the arrival of the South and North Alabama Railroad. It takes its name from George Hartsell, one of the railroad's owners. The post office opened in 1873. It was formally incorporated on March 1, 1875. Most of the oldest buildings were destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1916.
Hartselle is located at 34°26′25″N 86°56′25″W / 34.44028°N 86.94028°W / 34.44028; -86.94028Coordinates: 34°26′25″N 86°56′25″W / 34.44028°N 86.94028°W / 34.44028; -86.94028 (34.440383, -86.940385).
Choose the Right HVAC Trade School near Hartselle AL
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose a trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Hartselle AL.
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