How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Course near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Juneau AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, 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 completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Juneau AK HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction 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, usually accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Juneau AK.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Juneau AK, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Juneau AK students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Juneau and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Juneau AK area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Juneau AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential 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 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Juneau AK HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Juneau AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Juneau AK HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Juneau AK home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find Out More About Juneau Heating and Cooling Training In Your Area
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak 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 options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Juneau AK.