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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling School Near Ketchikan Alaska

Ketchikan Alaska commercial hvac technician installing furnacesOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Ketchikan AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant 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 completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

Ketchikan Alaska home A/C condensers

There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Ketchikan Ak.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, many degrees feature 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 four year program. In addition to being taught 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 future career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Ketchikan AK, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Ketchikan Alaska forced air heat registerEnrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Ketchikan AK students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Ketchikan and study supplies can be reduced, 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 commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly 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 professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Ketchikan AK HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few 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 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For HVAC Training Classes

Ketchikan Alaska hvac technician working on hot water heater

As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Ketchikan AK area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Ketchikan AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate 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 low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high 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 utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Ketchikan AK HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools 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 working relationships with local Ketchikan AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Ketchikan AK HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to 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 relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Ketchikan AK, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Ketchikan HVAC Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Finding the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you should pick an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Ketchikan AK.


 

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