How to Select an HVAC Certification Class near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Tuscaloosa AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you require? Some future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the heating and cooling school is to their residence. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things 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 additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
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, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Tuscaloosa AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the important 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 may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the Tuscaloosa AL area school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several choices offered in Tuscaloosa AL for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually accomplished in just six months, though 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 can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among Tuscaloosa AL beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning 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 goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field later returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the Tuscaloosa AL HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online School Options
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Tuscaloosa AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Tuscaloosa and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Colleges
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools near Tuscaloosa AL and throughout the USA to pick from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs near Tuscaloosa AL. Also, many states require 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their Tuscaloosa AL apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Tuscaloosa AL Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with area HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art 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 with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Alabama and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, check that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Heating and Cooling Tech?When preparing to interview for a Heating and Cooling position, it's a good idea to consider questions you may be asked. Among the things that recruiters typically ask Heating and Cooling prospects is "What compelled you to select Heating and Air Conditioning as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming an HVAC Contractor, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to Heating and Air Conditioning, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize several ideas about how you would like to address them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an exceptional Heating and Cooling Contractor and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Pick the Right HVAC Trade Program in Tuscaloosa Alabama
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person 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, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate 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 dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Tuscaloosa AL.
Some Infomation on Tuscaloosa Alabama
Tuscaloosa (/tʌskəˈluːsə/ TUS-kə-LOO-sə) is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 100,287 in 2017.
Incorporated as a town on December 13, 1819, it was named after Tuskaloosa, the chief of a band of Muskogean-speaking people. They battled and were defeated by forces of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila, thought to have been located in what is now central Alabama. Tuscaloosa served as Alabama's capital city from 1826 to 1846.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west-central Alabama known as West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Hale and Pickens counties. In 2013 its estimated metro population was 235,628. Tuscaloosa is also the home of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the University of Alabama remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city.
Tuscaloosa has been traditionally known as the "Druid City" because of the numerous water oaks planted in its downtown streets since the 1840s. The city has become known nationally for the sports successes of the University of Alabama, particularly in football. City leaders adopted the moniker "The City of Champions" after the Alabama Crimson Tide football team won the BCS National Championship in their 2009, 2011, and again in their 2012 seasons. The Tide won the College Football Playoff in the 2015 season and 2017 season.
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