How to Select an HVAC Certification Class near Selma Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Selma AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician in Selma AL
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly 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, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Selma AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are some 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 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 examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Selma AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning 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 money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Selma AL, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some 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 via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Selma AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Selma and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes near Selma AL
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Selma AL area and across the Country to pick from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Selma AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly imperative 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 use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Selma AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical 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 HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Selma AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using 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. If not, ask a local Selma AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Selma AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend 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 desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Selma AL, check that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Selma AL?
Selma is a city in and the county seat of Dallas County, in the Black Belt region of south central Alabama and extending to the west. Located on the banks of the Alabama River, the city has a population of 20,756 as of the 2010 census.
The city is best known for the 1960s Selma Voting Rights Movement and the Selma to Montgomery marches, beginning with "Bloody Sunday" in March 1965 and ending with 25,000 people entering Montgomery at the end of the last march to press for voting rights. This activism generated national attention to social justice and that summer, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed by Congress to authorize federal oversight and enforcement of constitutional rights of all citizens.
It had been a trading center and market town during the years of King Cotton in the South. It was also an important armaments manufacturing and iron shipbuilding center during the Civil War, surrounded by miles of earthen fortifications. The Confederate forces were defeated during the Battle of Selma.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Classes near Selma AL
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should select a trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening 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 assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Selma AL.
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