How to Pick the Best HVAC Certification Course Near Meadow Lakes Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Meadow Lakes AK. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just 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 other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a number of options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Meadow Lakes 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 employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for 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 study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to 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 field in Meadow Lakes AK, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Meadow Lakes AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Meadow Lakes and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Meadow Lakes AK HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency 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 together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs 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.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Meadow Lakes AK area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Meadow Lakes AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also indicate 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 more extensive list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Meadow Lakes AK HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Meadow Lakes AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Meadow Lakes AK HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Meadow Lakes AK home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving 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 difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
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 in the evening or on weekends near Meadow Lakes AK, confirm that the schools 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. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether 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 appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Meadow Lakes AK.