How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Bethel Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Bethel AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors 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. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety 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. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Bethel Ak.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees incorporate 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 conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Bethel AK, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Bethel AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Bethel and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Bethel AK HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are available. 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 proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three 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 area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Bethel AK area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Bethel AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Bethel AK HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Bethel AK HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Bethel AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Bethel AK residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bethel AK, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. 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 protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Bethel AK.