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How to Pick the Right HVAC Degree Program near Knik Fairview Alaska

Knik Fairview Alaska residential air conditioning condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Knik Fairview AK. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their decision based exclusively 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. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Contractor

Knik Fairview Alaska HVAC Contractor servicing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs 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, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Knik Fairview AK HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various 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.

Considering that licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

Knik Fairview Alaska home heater

There are a number of choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Knik Fairview AK.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Knik Fairview AK, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Knik Fairview AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Knik Fairview and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Knik Fairview Alaska HVAC tech repairing water heater

Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Knik Fairview AK area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade programs in the Knik Fairview AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Knik Fairview AK HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Knik Fairview AK HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Knik Fairview AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Knik Fairview AK home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn 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 handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Knik Fairview AK, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Knik Fairview Heating and Cooling Schools Near You

Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Finding the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. 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 proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Knik Fairview AK.