How to Select the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Juneau Alaska
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Juneau AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Juneau AK HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be acquired 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Juneau AK.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, some degrees incorporate 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 conventional 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.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with 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 acquiring some experience in the field in Juneau AK, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for some Juneau AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Juneau and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs 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 less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Juneau AK area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Juneau AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains 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 agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive 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 will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Juneau AK HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Juneau AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Juneau AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Juneau AK residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction 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 big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Juneau AK.