How to Select an HVAC Training Course near Lake Charles Louisiana
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Lake Charles LA. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors 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 other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let’s take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech in Lake Charles LA
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Lake Charles LA HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the important 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 makes available 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 three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists 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.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it’s essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn 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 six months, although 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 may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Lake Charles LA.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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 based on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Lake Charles LA, later going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Lake Charles LA students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Lake Charles and study materials can be reduced, 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 responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Schools near Lake Charles LA
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Lake Charles LA area and all over the USA to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Lake Charles LA area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are 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 acquire an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers 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 more extensive directory of graduates, 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Lake Charles LA HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Lake Charles LA HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Lake Charles LA HVAC contractor 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 Lake Charles LA residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Lake Charles LA, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Attending HVAC School near Lake Charles LA?
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles (French: Lac Charles) is the fifth-largest incorporated city in the U.S. state of Louisiana, located on Lake Charles, Prien Lake, and the Calcasieu River. Founded in 1861 in Calcasieu Parish, it is a major industrial, cultural, and educational center in the southwest region of the state.
As of the 2010 census, the population was 71,993. Lake Charles is the principal city of the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area, having a population of 202,040. It is the larger principal city of the Lake Charles-Jennings Combined Statistical Area, with a population of 225,235. The 2010 population of the five-parish area of Southwest Louisiana was 292,619.
It is considered a regionally significant center of petrochemical refining, gaming, tourism, and education, being home to McNeese State University and Sowela Technical Community College. Because of the lakes and waterways throughout the city, metropolitan Lake Charles is often referred to as the Lake Area.
Pick the Right HVAC Trade School near Lake Charles LA
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you should select a technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are plenty of 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 speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if 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 right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Lake Charles LA.
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