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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Badger Alaska

Badger Alaska residential air conditioning condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Badger AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Professional

Badger Alaska Heating and Cooling Technician repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently 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 skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Badger AK HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the significant 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 can 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 as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to 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 mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types 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 intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree Classes

Badger Alaska residential heating pump

There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Badger AK.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, many degrees incorporate 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Badger AK, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Badger AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Badger and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of 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, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Badger Alaska Heating and Cooling tech repairing water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Badger AK area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade programs in the Badger AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is 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 get a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can produce 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Badger AK HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade 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 inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Badger AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools 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, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Badger AK HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Badger AK residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training 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 students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Badger AK, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits 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.

Find Out More About Badger HVAC Schools Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical 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 talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper 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 educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Badger AK.