How to Enroll In an HVAC Training Class near Saginaw Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Saginaw AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro in Saginaw AL
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Saginaw AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it’s imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction 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, often accomplished in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Saginaw AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four 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 ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Saginaw AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for some Saginaw AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Saginaw and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes near Saginaw AL
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Saginaw AL area and across the United States to select from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Saginaw AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also mean that the instructors 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 directory of graduates, 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Saginaw AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Saginaw AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Saginaw AL HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Saginaw AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Saginaw AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Saginaw AL?
Saginaw is an unincorporated community 2.5 miles north of Calera in Shelby County, Alabama, United States with zip code 35137. It is part of the Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman Combined Statistical Area. It is located southeast of Alabaster on the east side of Interstate 65 at the intersection of State Route 70 and U.S. Route 31.
Saginaw is the home of the Saginaw Pipe Company, Inc., a major supplier of steel pipe, beams, tubing, and plate. The Dravo Lime Company quarry in Saginaw was honored for their outstanding safety record in the annual Sentinels of Safety awards program co-sponsored by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the National Mining Association (NMA) in 1997 and 1999.
The U.S. Census bureau does not keep separate statistics for Saginaw. As of the census of 2000, for Block Group 2, Census Tract 306.09, Shelby County, Alabama, which is the census block group that includes the center of Saginaw, the total population was 1,684 people, with a racial makeup of 97.1% white, 2.2% black, and 0.7% mixed or other races.
Pick the Right HVAC Training Course near Saginaw AL
Selecting the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this post, you need to choose a technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Saginaw AL.
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