How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Juneau Alaska
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Juneau AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Juneau AK HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Juneau AK.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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 dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Juneau AK, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Juneau AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Juneau and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Juneau AK area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Juneau AK area have earned 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 an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, 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 finish the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly 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 utilize 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 Juneau AK HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Juneau AK HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Juneau AK HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Juneau AK residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, verify that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not 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 appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Juneau AK.