How to Pick the Right HVAC Degree Program near Badger Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Badger AK. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Badger AK HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types 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 intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC vocational 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 preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of 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 deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Badger AK.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually 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 for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for 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 learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Badger AK, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Badger AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Badger and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Badger AK area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Badger AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Badger AK HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction 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 HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Badger AK HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Badger AK HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Badger AK home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Badger AK, verify that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore 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, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out 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.