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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program Near Knik Fairview Alaska

Knik Fairview Alaska commercial hvac tech repairing furnacesOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Knik Fairview AK. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Many future students will make their choice based exclusively 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 take into account. 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree Courses

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There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Knik Fairview Ak.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate 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 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.

Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Knik Fairview AK, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Knik Fairview Alaska forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Knik Fairview AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Knik Fairview and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Knik Fairview AK HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with 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 exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, 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 wish to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

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Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Knik Fairview AK area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Knik Fairview AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower 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 important 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Knik Fairview AK HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Knik Fairview AK HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Knik Fairview AK HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Knik Fairview AK home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and learn 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 reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Knik Fairview AK, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Knik Fairview HVAC Trade Schools

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Knik Fairview AK.


 

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