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How to Choose the Best HVAC Program Near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska commercial hvac technician repairing furnacesOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Juneau AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

Juneau Alaska home A/C condensers

There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually completed in as little as six months, though some programs 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 might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Juneau Ak.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 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.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations 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 gaining some experience in the field in Juneau AK, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Juneau Alaska forced air heat registerAttending an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Juneau AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Juneau and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. 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 minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.

HVAC Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Juneau AK HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs

Juneau Alaska hvac contractor installing water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Juneau AK area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Juneau AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing 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 suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 additionally that it has the network of Juneau AK HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Juneau AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Juneau AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Juneau AK home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Juneau AK, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Juneau HVAC Training Courses

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Picking the right HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this post, you need to choose an HVAC trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Juneau AK.


 

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