How to Enroll In the Best Heating and Cooling Certification Training Near Fairbanks Alaska
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Fairbanks AK. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Fairbanks Ak.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for 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 appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Fairbanks AK, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also offer 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 option may be a more convenient solution for many Fairbanks AK students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Fairbanks and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. 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 minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic 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 contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Fairbanks AK HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Fairbanks AK area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Fairbanks AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Fairbanks AK HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Fairbanks AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Fairbanks AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased 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 see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed 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 contractor in Fairbanks AK.