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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Knik Fairview Alaska

Knik Fairview Alaska home air conditioning condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Knik Fairview AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Contractor

Knik Fairview Alaska HVAC Tech inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Knik Fairview AK HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the industry 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 exam 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Knik Fairview Alaska home heat pump

There are several options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often accomplished in just 6 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 for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Knik Fairview AK.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Knik Fairview AK, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Knik Fairview AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Knik Fairview and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous 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 more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

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As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down 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 United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Knik Fairview AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Knik Fairview AK HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Knik Fairview AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art 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 with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Knik Fairview AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Knik Fairview AK home. Remember 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 one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Knik Fairview AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Knik Fairview Heating and Cooling Training Classes In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling options 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 right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Knik Fairview AK.