How to Select the Best HVAC Certification Training Near Ketchikan Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Ketchikan AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, typically completed in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Ketchikan Ak.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Ketchikan AK, later returning to acquire 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 Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for many Ketchikan AK students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Ketchikan and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of 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, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Ketchikan AK HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Ketchikan AK area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Ketchikan AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Ketchikan AK HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Ketchikan AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Ketchikan AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Ketchikan AK home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers 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 schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Ketchikan AK, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this post, you need to pick an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not 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 appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Ketchikan AK.