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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Vocational School Near Homer Alaska

Homer Alaska commercial hvac technician installing furnacesOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Homer AK. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed 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 Classes

Homer Alaska residential air conditioning condensers

There are several choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Homer Ak.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as 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 acquiring some experience in the field in Homer AK, later returning to acquire 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 Classes

Homer Alaska forced air heat registerAttending an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this option may be a more practical solution for some Homer AK students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Homer and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. 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 limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

HVAC Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Homer AK HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged 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 techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, 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 intend to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes

Homer Alaska hvac technician installing water heater

After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Homer AK area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Homer AK area have received 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 an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Homer AK HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Homer AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Homer AK HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Homer AK residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience 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 fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Homer AK, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Homer HVAC Tech Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Selecting the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an HVAC trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not 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 proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Homer AK.


 

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