How to Choose an HVAC Training Class near Newton Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Newton AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist in Newton AL
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Newton AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle 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 mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it’s essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Newton AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid 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 taking two years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Newton AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Newton AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Newton and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs near Newton AL
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Newton AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That’s why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Newton AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It’s also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Newton AL HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Newton AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Newton AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Newton AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn 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 reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Newton AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Attending HVAC School near Newton AL?
Newton is a town in Dale County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census its population was 1,511. Once the county seat of Dale County, Newton lost this distinction to nearby Ozark in 1870, and is now a small farming community. It incorporated in 1887. The city currently forms a part of the Ozark micropolitan statistical area.
Newton was founded in 1843 after the formation of Coffee County from Dale County's western half, which rendered the original county seat of Daleville off-center. The town was a scene for Confederate recruiting during the Civil War, and was the site of a battle in March 1865 between local Home Guard troops and elements of the 1st Florida Cavalry (US) operating out of Florida. The Federals were led by Joseph Sanders, a Dale County resident who had previously been a captain in the 31st Georgia Infantry, but had later switched sides and joined the Federals. Seeking to burn the county courthouse, the attackers were repulsed when local troops ambushed their column as they entered the town. This event is commemorated by a monument located in downtown Newton, and by annual re-enactments.
On December 3, 1864, a local Methodist minister named Bill Sketoe was lynched just north of Newton by local Home Guardsmen led by Captain Joseph Brear. Since Sketoe was tall, a hole had to be dug beneath his feet to accommodate his large frame. Local legend insists that "the hole that won't stay filled" never vanished—even after being filled in numerous times during the years that followed. Though covered in 1979 by a new bridge and tons of rip-rap, "Sketoe's hole" remains a local attraction, and was documented by Alabama writer Kathryn Tucker Windham in her 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. A monument to Sketoe was dedicated near the hanging site in 2006, and the local museum displays items of Sketoe memorabilia.
Select the Right HVAC Training Classes near Newton AL
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Newton AL.
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