How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Program Near Watford City North Dakota
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 trade school near Watford City ND. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things 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 additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially 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 in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Watford City Nd.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Watford City ND, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Watford City ND students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Watford City and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Watford City ND HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could 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 probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Watford City ND area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Watford City ND area have earned 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 pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Watford City ND HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Watford City ND HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Watford City ND HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Watford City ND home. Take note that if you decide to attend 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 get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify 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 in the evening or on weekends near Watford City ND, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Picking the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to 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. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Watford City ND.