How to Pick the Best HVAC School Near Chena Ridge Alaska
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Chena Ridge AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly 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 provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Chena Ridge Ak.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards 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.
Selecting 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 commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Chena Ridge AK, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Chena Ridge AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Chena Ridge and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Chena Ridge AK HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered 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.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn 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 certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Schools
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Chena Ridge AK area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Chena Ridge AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can produce 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Chena Ridge AK HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Chena Ridge AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area 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 using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Chena Ridge AK HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Chena Ridge AK home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive 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 see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Chena Ridge AK, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this post, you need to choose an HVAC school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Chena Ridge AK.