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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training Near Kenai Alaska

Kenai Alaska commercial hvac tech repairing furnacesOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Kenai AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree Schools

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There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Kenai 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 employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards 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 appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, in addition to 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 acquiring some experience in the field in Kenai AK, eventually going back to obtain 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 Training Online

Kenai Alaska forced air heat registerEnrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Kenai AK students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Kenai and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.

HVAC Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Kenai AK HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes

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As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Kenai AK area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Kenai AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Kenai AK HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Kenai AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Kenai AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Kenai AK residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized 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 experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Kenai AK, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Kenai HVAC Trade Schools

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Selecting the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Kenai AK.


 

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