How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Course near Anchorage Alaska
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Anchorage AK. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to investigate 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Anchorage AK HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle 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 desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives available 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, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Anchorage AK.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for 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.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Anchorage AK, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical 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 can be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for many Anchorage AK students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Anchorage and study supplies 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 commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Anchorage AK area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Anchorage AK area have acquired 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 pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require 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 might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers 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 graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Anchorage AK HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Anchorage AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment 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 instructed 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, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Anchorage AK HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Anchorage AK residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered 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 laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Anchorage AK.