How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Course near Badger Alaska
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Badger AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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 other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Badger AK HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below 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 competency 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 professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed 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 made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually completed in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Badger AK.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees include 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 traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Badger AK, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all 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 instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Badger AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Badger and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Badger AK area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Badger AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train 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 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Badger AK HVAC employers to assist students 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 schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Badger AK HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Badger AK HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Badger AK residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger 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 teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Badger AK, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices 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.