How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Eagle River Alaska
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Eagle River AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors 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 criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Eagle River AK HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Eagle River AK.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Eagle River AK, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Eagle River AK students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Eagle River and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Eagle River AK area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Eagle River AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at 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 could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory 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 validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Eagle River AK HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Eagle River AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Eagle River AK HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Eagle River AK residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger 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 instructors and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Eagle River 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 allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Eagle River AK.