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How to Find the Right HVAC Degree Program Near Homer Alaska

Homer Alaska commercial hvac contractor installing furnacesOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Homer AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details that you need to research 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 covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools

Homer Alaska home A/C condensers

There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Homer Ak.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning 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 supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Homer AK, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Homer Alaska forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Homer AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Homer and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of 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, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Homer AK HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may 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 as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types 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 location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For Heating and Cooling Training Classes

Homer Alaska hvac tech working on hot water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Homer AK area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Homer AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent 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 broader directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Homer AK HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC training programs are taught along 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 Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Homer AK HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build 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 working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Homer AK HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Homer AK home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify 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 Homer AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Homer HVAC Tech Schools

Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you should select an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak 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, ask about scheduling choices 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 too. If you ask the proper 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 educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Homer AK.


 

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