How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Training near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Juneau AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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 discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Juneau AK HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as 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 provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Juneau AK.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Juneau AK, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Juneau AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Juneau and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Juneau AK area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Juneau AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, 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 validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Juneau AK HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Juneau AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Juneau AK HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Juneau AK home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, check that the programs you are comparing offer 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 protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose 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 things to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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 or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices 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.