How to Select the Right HVAC Degree Program Near Palmer Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Palmer AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Palmer Ak.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Palmer AK, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Palmer AK students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Palmer and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Palmer AK HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several 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.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Palmer AK area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Palmer AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains 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 agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Palmer AK HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational 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 inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Palmer AK HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Palmer AK HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Palmer AK residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher 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 observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Palmer AK, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this post, you should select an HVAC 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 state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Palmer AK.