How to Select the Right HVAC Program near Juneau Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Juneau AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC 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 central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Juneau AK HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some 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 examination and may be received 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 needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive 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 preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Juneau AK, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer 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 online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Juneau AK students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Juneau and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Juneau AK area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Juneau AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but also that it has the network of Juneau AK HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Juneau AK HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Juneau AK HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Juneau AK residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges 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 sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Juneau AK, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices 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 right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Juneau AK.