How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Program Near Anchorage Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Anchorage AK. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Anchorage Ak.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. 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 understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate 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 standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and financial resources 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 Anchorage AK, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Anchorage AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Anchorage and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of 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 schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in 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, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Anchorage 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 trade that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged 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 offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may 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 dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Anchorage AK area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Anchorage AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program 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 acquire a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Anchorage AK HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along 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 HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Anchorage AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Anchorage AK HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Anchorage AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions relating to 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. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Anchorage AK, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Choosing the ideal HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this post, you should choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Anchorage AK.