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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Program Near Eagle River Alaska

Eagle River Alaska commercial hvac tech repairing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Eagle River AK. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you need? A number of future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things 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. Those and other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Eagle River Alaska home A/C condensers

There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of 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 furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Eagle River Ak.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, some 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Eagle River AK, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Eagle River Alaska central heating registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate 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 balance of the classes can be participated in online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Eagle River AK students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Eagle River and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Eagle River AK HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few 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 can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various 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 might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes

Eagle River Alaska hvac contractor working on hot water heater

After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Eagle River AK area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Eagle River AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 complete the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Eagle River AK HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing 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 supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm 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 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 Eagle River AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Eagle River AK home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm 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 Eagle River AK, check that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Eagle River HVAC Schools

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options 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 Eagle River AK.


 

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