How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Course near Knik Fairview Alaska
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Knik Fairview AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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 criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Knik Fairview AK HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as 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 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Knik Fairview AK.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Knik Fairview AK, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Knik Fairview AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Knik Fairview and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Knik Fairview AK area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Knik Fairview AK area have acquired 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 example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may produce 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 additionally that it has the network of Knik Fairview AK HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Knik Fairview AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school 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 specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Knik Fairview AK HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Knik Fairview AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm 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 at night or on weekends near Knik Fairview AK, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose 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 plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect 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, ask about scheduling options and if 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 appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Knik Fairview AK.