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How to Select the Right HVAC Vocational School Near College Alaska

College Alaska commercial hvac tech installing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near College AK. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things 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. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools

College Alaska home air conditioning condensers

There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in as little as 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 might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near College Ak.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically 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 suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require 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 study how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in College AK, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

College Alaska central heating registerAttending an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many College AK students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from College and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for College AK HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination 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 examination 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 provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions For HVAC Training Programs

College Alaska hvac contractor working on water heater

When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the College AK area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the College AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved 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 complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of College AK HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local College AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local College AK HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your College AK residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

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 College AK, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About College HVAC Tech Schools

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Picking the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in College AK.


 

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