How to Pick the Best HVAC Vocational School Near Watford City North Dakota
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Watford City ND. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few 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 examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often achieved in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially 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 furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Watford City Nd.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many degrees feature 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 conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Watford City ND, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some 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 alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Watford City ND students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Watford City and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Watford City ND HVAC techs to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Watford City ND area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Watford City ND area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Watford City ND HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical 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 HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Watford City ND HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus 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, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Watford City ND HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Watford City ND residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized 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 see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Watford City ND, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Choosing the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore 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, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Watford City ND.