How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Kodiak Alaska
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Kodiak AK. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you require? Many potential students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things 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. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Kodiak Ak.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Kodiak AK, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Kodiak AK students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Kodiak and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Kodiak AK HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination 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 needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Kodiak AK area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Kodiak AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Kodiak AK HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Kodiak AK HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Kodiak AK HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Kodiak AK residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Kodiak AK, check that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should select an HVAC trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask 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 as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Kodiak AK.