How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Fairbanks AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some 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 additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Fairbanks Ak.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Fairbanks AK, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for 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 remainder of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Fairbanks AK students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Fairbanks and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance 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 requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Fairbanks AK HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Fairbanks AK area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Fairbanks AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program 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 course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Fairbanks AK HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Fairbanks AK HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Fairbanks AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to 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 reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this post, you should select an Heating and Cooling technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Fairbanks AK.