How to Select the Best Heating and Cooling Program Near Eagle River Alaska
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Eagle River AK. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in just six 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 programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Eagle River Ak.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually 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 towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Eagle River AK, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer 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 approach may be a more convenient solution for some Eagle River AK students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Eagle River and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Eagle River AK HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians 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 might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Eagle River AK area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Eagle River AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent 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 broader list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Eagle River AK HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Eagle River AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Eagle River AK HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Eagle River AK home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Eagle River AK, check that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Eagle River AK.