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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Eagle River Alaska

Eagle River Alaska home air conditioning condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Eagle River AK. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you require? Many future 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 factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Pro

Eagle River Alaska HVAC Tech fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Eagle River AK HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree Classes

Eagle River Alaska residential heating pump

There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Eagle River AK.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include 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 standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives 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 getting some experience in the field in Eagle River AK, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Eagle River AK students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Eagle River and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Eagle River Alaska Heating and Cooling contractor installing water heater

As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Eagle River AK area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Eagle River AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Eagle River AK HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Eagle River AK HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable 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 certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Eagle River AK HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Eagle River AK home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Eagle River AK, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Eagle River Heating and Cooling Courses In Your Area

Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Finding the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. 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 informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Eagle River AK.