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How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Course Near Kenai Alaska

Kenai Alaska commercial hvac tech servicing furnacesOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Kenai AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Kenai Alaska residential A/C condensers

There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Kenai Ak.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities 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. Normally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Kenai AK, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Kenai Alaska forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one option in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Kenai AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Kenai and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

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 central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Kenai AK HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are available. 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 attained by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Kenai Alaska hvac tech working on water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Kenai AK area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Kenai AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Kenai AK HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction 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 businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Kenai AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Kenai AK HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, 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 can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Kenai AK, check that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Kenai HVAC Training Programs

Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Picking the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling technical 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 plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Kenai AK.


 

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