How to Enroll In an HVAC Certification Course near Alexandria Louisiana
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Alexandria LA. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC training program, let’s take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Alexandria LA
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Alexandria LA HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it’s imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, typically completed in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Alexandria LA.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Alexandria LA, later going back to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in 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 attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Alexandria LA students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Alexandria and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes near Alexandria LA
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Alexandria LA area and all over the Country to choose from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Alexandria LA area have attained 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 relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate 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 of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified 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 broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Alexandria LA HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Alexandria LA HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment 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 up-to-date and what you will be working with 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 expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Alexandria LA HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Alexandria LA home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Alexandria LA, check that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Alexandria LA?
Alexandria is the ninth-largest city in the state of Louisiana and is the parish seat of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, United States. It lies on the south bank of the Red River in almost the exact geographic center of the state. It is the principal city of the Alexandria metropolitan area (population 153,922) which encompasses all of Rapides and Grant parishes. Its neighboring city is Pineville. In 2010, the population was 47,723, an increase of 3 percent from the 2000 census.
Located along the Red River, the city of Alexandria was originally home to a community which supported activities of the adjacent French trader outpost of Post du Rapides. The area developed as an assemblage of traders, Caddo people, and merchants in the agricultural lands bordering the mostly unsettled areas to the north and providing a link from the south to the El Camino Real and then larger settlement of Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase.
Alexander Fulton, a businessman from Washington County, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received a land grant from Spain in 1785, and the first organized settlement was made at some point in the 1790s. In 1805, Fulton and business partner Thomas Harris Maddox laid out the town plan and named the town in Fulton's honor. The earliest deed that survives for an Alexandria resident is from June 24, 1805 when a William Cochren, who identifies himself as a "of the Town of Alexandria", sold a tract of land across the Red River to a William Murrey.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Course near Alexandria LA
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect 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, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Alexandria LA.
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