How to Enroll In the Best HVAC Certification Course Near Homer Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Homer AK. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically completed in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Homer Ak.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Homer AK, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also sponsor 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 via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Homer AK students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Homer and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools 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 busy lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central 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 criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Homer AK HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are offered. 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 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. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Homer AK area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Homer AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Homer AK HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational 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 reviewing have working relationships with local Homer AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Homer AK HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Homer AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Homer AK, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this post, you should pick an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options 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 Homer AK.