How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program Near Bethel Alaska
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Bethel AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of choices available 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, typically accomplished in just six months, although 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 may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Bethel Ak.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Bethel AK, later going back 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 Online Training
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Bethel AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Bethel and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Bethel AK HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Bethel AK area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Bethel AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Bethel AK HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Bethel AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Bethel AK HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Bethel AK home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction 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 students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and find out 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 assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Bethel AK, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Bethel AK.