How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Knik Fairview Alaska
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Knik Fairview AK. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
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, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Knik Fairview AK HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Knik Fairview AK.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, a number of 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering 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 future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Knik Fairview AK, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Knik Fairview AK students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Knik Fairview and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many 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, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Knik Fairview AK area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools 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 relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Knik Fairview AK HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Knik Fairview AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools 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, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Knik Fairview AK HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Knik Fairview AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher 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 some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience 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 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 considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Knik Fairview AK.