How to Find the Right HVAC Training Course near Tuscumbia Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Tuscumbia AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Tuscumbia AL
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Tuscumbia AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it’s essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Tuscumbia AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong 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 a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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 based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Tuscumbia AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, 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 program online is one alternative in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Tuscumbia AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Tuscumbia and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs near Tuscumbia AL
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Tuscumbia AL area and across the United States to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Tuscumbia AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm 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 make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Tuscumbia AL HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training 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 HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Tuscumbia AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build 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 up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Tuscumbia AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Tuscumbia AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges 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 experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm 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 Tuscumbia AL, check that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Tuscumbia AL?
Tuscumbia was the hometown of Helen Keller (Ivy Green) and much of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Tuscumbia Historic District. The city serves as the location for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Tuscumbia had its beginnings when the Michael Dixon family arrived about 1816. They traded with Chief Tucumseh for the Tuscumbia Valley and built their home at the head of the big spring. From these humble dwellings quickly developed a village known as the Big Spring Community. The men of the community requested that the state legislature incorporate them as a city. The town was incorporated in 1820 as Ococoposa and is one of Alabama's oldest towns. In 1821, its name was changed to Big Spring and on December 22, 1822, to Tuscumbia, after the Chief Rainmaker of the Chickasaws.
Although shoals on the nearby Tennessee River made the river nearly impassable, a federal highway completed in 1820 provided the area with good access to markets. Tuscumbia soon became the center for agriculture in northern Alabama. A line to the town on the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad was completed in 1832, and by 1850 Tuscumbia was a major railroad hub for train traffic throughout the South.
Select the Right HVAC Training Course near Tuscumbia AL
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select a vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Tuscumbia AL.
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