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How to Find the Right HVAC Degree Program Near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska commercial hvac tech servicing furnacesNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Lakes AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many potential students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Lakes Alaska home air conditioning condensers

There are a number of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Lakes Ak.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering 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 financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Lakes AK, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Lakes Alaska forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some 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 participated in on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Lakes AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Lakes and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And many 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 easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

HVAC Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors 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, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Lakes AK HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes

Lakes Alaska hvac technician working on hot water heater

Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Lakes AK area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Lakes AK area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Lakes AK HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC technical 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 within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Lakes AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment 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 concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Lakes AK HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Lakes AK residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

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 Lakes AK, check that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Lakes HVAC Vocational Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Selecting the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options 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 proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Lakes AK.


 

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