HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered in Alaska.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Alaska, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Alaska students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors 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 every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Alaska HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be received 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.