How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling School Near Watford City North Dakota
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Watford City ND. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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 criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Watford City Nd.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with 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 acquiring some experience in the field in Watford City ND, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one option in getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Watford City ND students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Watford City and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps 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 frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Watford City ND HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Watford City ND area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Watford City ND area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 low completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Watford City ND HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Watford City ND HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Watford City ND HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Watford City ND residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training 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 big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs 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 Watford City ND, check that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should select an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore 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, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Watford City ND.