How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Knik Fairview Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Knik Fairview AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Knik Fairview AK HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized 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 techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with 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 might be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually accomplished in just 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 applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Knik Fairview AK.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, a number of 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 call for 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 study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Knik Fairview AK, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one option to attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Knik Fairview AK students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Knik Fairview and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Knik Fairview AK area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Knik Fairview AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory 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 will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Knik Fairview AK HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Knik Fairview AK HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Knik Fairview AK HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can 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 moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Knik Fairview AK, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. 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 protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Knik Fairview AK.