How to Pick an HVAC School near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Tuscaloosa AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Tuscaloosa AL
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Tuscaloosa AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, 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 obtain certification, it’s imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically completed in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train 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 furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Tuscaloosa AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 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 right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Tuscaloosa AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting 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 provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Tuscaloosa AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Tuscaloosa and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses near Tuscaloosa AL
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Tuscaloosa AL area and all over the USA to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Tuscaloosa AL area have received 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. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Tuscaloosa AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Tuscaloosa AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date 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 under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Tuscaloosa AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Tuscaloosa AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk 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 programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Tuscaloosa AL?
Tuscaloosa (/tʌskəˈluːsə/ TUSK-ə-LOO-sə) is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 99,543 in 2016.
Incorporated as a town on December 13, 1819, it was named after Tuskaloosa, the chief of a band of Muskogean-speaking people. They battled and were defeated by forces of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila, thought to have been located in what is now central Alabama. Tuscaloosa served as Alabama's capital city from 1826 to 1846.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west-central Alabama known as West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Hale and Pickens counties. In 2013 its estimated metro population was 235,628. Tuscaloosa is also the home of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the University of Alabama remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city.
Pick the Right HVAC Certification Training near Tuscaloosa AL
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose a school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter 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 contractor in Tuscaloosa AL.
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