How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Sterling Alaska
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Sterling AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just 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 other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Sterling Ak.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, some 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Sterling AK, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Sterling AK students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Sterling and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs 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 more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Sterling AK HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained 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. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Sterling AK area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Sterling AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Sterling AK HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs 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 reviewing have referring relationships with local Sterling AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Sterling AK HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Sterling AK residence. Take note that if you decide to attend 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 desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few 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 assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Sterling AK, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally 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 training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Sterling AK.