How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Certification Training Near Kenai Alaska
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Kenai AK. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within 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 technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Kenai Ak.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Kenai AK, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Kenai AK students that are short on time. And many 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 many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling 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, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Kenai AK HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three 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 location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational 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 qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Kenai AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce 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 a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Kenai AK HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Kenai AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently 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 Kenai AK HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Kenai AK home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Kenai AK, confirm that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk 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, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate 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 informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Kenai AK.