How to Find the Right HVAC College near Knik Fairview Alaska
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Knik Fairview AK. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Knik Fairview AK HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often achieved in just six months, though some courses 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 training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Knik Fairview AK.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 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 tailored 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Knik Fairview AK, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on 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 participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Knik Fairview AK students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Knik Fairview and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Schools
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Knik Fairview AK area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Knik Fairview AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in 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 field, but also that it has the network of Knik Fairview AK HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Knik Fairview AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Knik Fairview AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Knik Fairview AK residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Knik Fairview AK, check that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Learn More About Knik Fairview Heating and Cooling Training Classes In Your Area
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember 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 narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Knik Fairview AK.