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How to Pick the Best Heating and Cooling Certification Class Near Nikiski Alaska

Nikiski Alaska commercial hvac contractor repairing furnacesNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Nikiski AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? Many potential students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Nikiski Alaska residential A/C condensers

There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Nikiski Ak.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning 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, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Nikiski AK, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Nikiski Alaska forced air heat registerEnrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Nikiski AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Nikiski and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

HVAC Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Nikiski AK HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types 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 obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For HVAC Certification Courses

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Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Nikiski AK area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational schools in the Nikiski AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive 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. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean 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 a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Nikiski AK HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Nikiski AK HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain 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 technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Nikiski AK HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Nikiski AK home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Nikiski AK, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers 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.

Find Out More About Nikiski HVAC Training Programs

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Picking the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are ample 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 whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Nikiski AK.


 

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