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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska home A/C condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Juneau AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

Juneau Alaska Heating and Cooling Technician inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Juneau AK HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the important 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 can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Juneau Alaska home heating pump

There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Juneau AK.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically 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 for a career in management as well as 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 study how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Juneau AK, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Juneau AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Juneau and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes

Juneau Alaska Heating and Cooling technician installing water heater

After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Juneau AK area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Juneau AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Juneau AK HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Juneau AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Juneau AK HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Juneau AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Juneau AK, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits 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 Juneau Heating and Cooling Schools In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Finding the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Juneau AK.