How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Fairbanks Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Fairbanks AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to research 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 within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Fairbanks AK HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized 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 makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types 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 area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Fairbanks AK.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, a number of 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and money 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 Fairbanks AK, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this option may be a more practical solution for some Fairbanks AK students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Fairbanks and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Fairbanks AK area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Fairbanks AK area 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 an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Fairbanks AK HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Fairbanks AK HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fairbanks AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive 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 see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, check that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Learn More About Fairbanks Heating and Cooling Training Programs In Your Area
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed 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 trade. Other things to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered 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 comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Fairbanks AK.