How to Select an HVAC Certification Class near Shelby Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Shelby AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? Some 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 important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just 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. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional in Shelby AL
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Shelby AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Here 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 competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it’s important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Shelby AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred 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 delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Shelby AL, subsequently 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 Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more practical solution for many Shelby AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Shelby and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools 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 HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes near Shelby AL
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Shelby AL area and throughout the United States to select from. That’s why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Shelby AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example 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 often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 course and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Shelby AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Shelby AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained 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, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Shelby AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Shelby AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools 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 Shelby AL, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Shelby AL?
Shelby County, Alabama
Shelby County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 195,085. The county seat is Columbiana. The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816.
Shelby County was established on February 7, 1818, and it was named for the Revolutionary War hero and the first Governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. Beginning in 1820, the first county seat was located at Shelbyville. This settlement, long defunct, was located within the modern city limits of Pelham. The first courthouse was built of logs. The seat was moved to Columbia, now Columbiana, in 1826. Initially housed in an old school building, a new brick courthouse building was completed in 1854. It is now known as the Old Shelby County Courthouse and houses the Shelby County Museum and Archives. The current limestone courthouse was built from 1905–06, at a cost of $300,000.
Shelby County was the home of an early inland waterway, the Coosa River, and it was also the location of a very early east-west railroad in Alabama that connected Atlanta, Georgia, with locations to its west. Shelby County was also crossed by an early north-south railroad, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, that connected Louisville, Nashville, Decatur, Birmingham, and Montgomery.
Pick the Right HVAC Trade School near Shelby AL
Finding the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this post, you need to select a technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing 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 professional in Shelby AL.
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