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How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Course Near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska commercial hvac contractor installing furnacesOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Lakes AK. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

Lakes Alaska residential air conditioning condensers

There are several options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Lakes Ak.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities 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. Typically requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees feature 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 conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Lakes AK, subsequently going back to earn 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

Lakes Alaska central heating registerEnrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Lakes AK students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Lakes and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many 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 online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

HVAC Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Lakes AK HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many 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 technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with 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 available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions For HVAC Schools

Lakes Alaska hvac technician working on hot water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Lakes AK area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational schools in the Lakes AK area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 finish the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Lakes AK HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Lakes AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure 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 on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Lakes AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Lakes AK residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Lakes AK, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Lakes HVAC Training Classes

Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Picking the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are plenty 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 faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Lakes AK.


 

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