How to Select an HVAC Certification Course near Bay Minette Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Bay Minette AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Bay Minette AL
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Bay Minette AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many respected 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 achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may 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 as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it’s imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Bay Minette AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, a number of 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 traditional 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.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Bay Minette AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also provide 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 online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Bay Minette AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Bay Minette and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes near Bay Minette AL
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Bay Minette AL area and across the United States to select from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Bay Minette 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 relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It’s also 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Bay Minette AL HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught together 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 businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Bay Minette AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Bay Minette AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Bay Minette AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much one-on-one 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 observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Bay Minette AL?
Bay Minette, Alabama
In the first days of Baldwin County, the town of McIntosh Bluff (now in Mobile County, west of Baldwin County) on the Tombigbee River was the county seat. After being transferred to the town of Blakeley in 1810, the county seat was later moved to the city of Daphne in 1868. In 1900, by an act of the legislature of Alabama, the county seat was authorized for relocation to the city of Bay Minette; however, the city of Daphne resisted relocation. The citizens of Bay Minette moved the county records from Daphne in the middle of the night on October 11–12, 1901 and delivered them to the city of Bay Minette - where the Baldwin County seat remains to this day. A mural for the new post office built in 1937 was commissioned by the WPA and painted by Hilton Leech of Bridgeport, Connecticut, to commemorate this event.
In September 2011, the town attempted to enact a program called "Operation Restore Our Community". It would have allowed those convicted of a misdemeanor to substitute imprisonment with mandatory church attendance for one year. However, this program was challenged due to violating separation of church and state, and the program's start was delayed for judicial review. It appears to have been scrapped.
Bay Minette is located near the center of Baldwin County in southern Alabama at 30°53′0″N 87°46′38″W / 30.88333°N 87.77722°W / 30.88333; -87.77722 (30.883446, -87.777183). It is sited on high ground 5 miles (8 km) east of the Mobile River/Tensaw River valley and 6 miles (10 km) west of the Florida border formed by the Perdido River. U.S. Route 31 passes through the center of the city, leading south to Spanish Fort and northeast to Atmore. Interstate 65 passes about 5 miles (8 km) north of the city, with access from exit 34 (State Route 59) and exit 37 (State Route 287).
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Course near Bay Minette AL
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed 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 trade. Other factors to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined 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 dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Bay Minette AL.
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