How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Course near Eagle River Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Eagle River AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs 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 mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Eagle River AK HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often completed in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Eagle River AK.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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 long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Eagle River AK, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Eagle River AK students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Eagle River and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Eagle River AK area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Eagle River AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Eagle River AK HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Eagle River AK HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Eagle River AK HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Eagle River AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Eagle River AK, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a fulfilling 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget 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 evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Eagle River AK.