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How to Select the Right HVAC School near Badger Alaska

Badger Alaska residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Badger AK. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation 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 in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Contractor

Badger Alaska Heating and Cooling Contractor fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Badger AK HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

Badger Alaska residential heating pump

There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, typically achieved in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially 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 provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Badger AK.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, some 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering 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 future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Badger AK, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Attending an HVAC school online is one option to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Badger AK students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Badger and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Badger Alaska Heating and Cooling contractor servicing water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Badger AK area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Badger AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may result in 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Badger AK HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Badger AK HVAC professionals. 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 regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Badger AK HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Badger AK residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much personalized training 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 large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools 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 comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Badger HVAC Training Programs In Your Area

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should 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 features to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Badger AK.