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How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Eagle River Alaska

Eagle River Alaska residential A/C condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Eagle River AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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 benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Technician

Eagle River Alaska HVAC Technician fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Eagle River AK HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam 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 as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Eagle River Alaska home heating pump

There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Eagle River AK.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, some 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 traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Eagle River AK, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for some Eagle River AK students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Eagle River and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Eagle River Alaska HVAC tech replacing water heater

After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Eagle River AK area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade schools in the Eagle River AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Eagle River AK HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Eagle River AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Eagle River AK HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Eagle River AK residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications 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 can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Eagle River AK, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Eagle River Heating and Cooling Training Programs Near You

Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification

Selecting the ideal HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling 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 profession. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Eagle River AK.