How to Pick an HVAC Training Class near Stephenson West Virginia
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Stephenson WV. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor in Stephenson WV
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Stephenson WV HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it’s important that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify 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 summary of each credential offered near Stephenson WV.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, as well as 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 acquiring some experience in the field in Stephenson WV, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Stephenson WV students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Stephenson and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. 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 limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools near Stephenson WV
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Stephenson WV area and all over the USA to pick from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Stephenson WV area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 Stephenson WV HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction 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 trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Stephenson WV HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Stephenson WV HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Stephenson WV residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Stephenson WV, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Stephenson WV?
Winchester, VA–WV MSA
Winchester, VA–WV MSA is a U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as of June, 2003. This should not be confused with the City of Winchester, Virginia, the most populous community within this MSA. The population of the Winchester, VA-WV MSA as the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau estimates is 133,836.
Note: Since a state constitutional change in 1871, all cities in Virginia are independent cities and they are not legally located in any county. The OMB considers these independent cities to be county-equivalents for the purpose of defining MSAs in Virginia. Each MSA is listed by its counties, then cities, each in alphabetical order, and not by size.
Select the Right HVAC Certification Training near Stephenson WV
Picking the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you should choose a trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial aid 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 filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Stephenson WV.
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