How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Class Near Kodiak Alaska
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Kodiak AK. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors 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 discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational 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 six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Kodiak Ak.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking 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 getting some experience in the field in Kodiak AK, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Kodiak AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Kodiak and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Kodiak AK HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following 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 proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available 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 as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Kodiak AK area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Kodiak AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the instructors 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which may result in 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 also that it has the network of Kodiak AK HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Kodiak AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Kodiak AK HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Kodiak AK home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors 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 programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Kodiak AK, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select an Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask 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 right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Kodiak AK.