How to Enroll In the Best HVAC School Near Lakes Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Lakes AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually completed in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Lakes Ak.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for 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 air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Lakes AK, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more practical solution for some Lakes AK students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Lakes and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous 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, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Lakes AK HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you select 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 select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Lakes AK area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Lakes AK area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 low completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Lakes AK HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Lakes AK HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional 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 using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Lakes AK HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must 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 relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Lakes AK, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this post, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Lakes AK.