How to Enroll In the Best Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Sitka Alaska
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Sitka AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction 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 lesser amount of time, often achieved in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Sitka Ak.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Sitka AK, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Sitka AK students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Sitka and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Sitka AK HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Sitka AK area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Sitka 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 pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list 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 can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Sitka AK HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational 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 reviewing have working partnerships with local Sitka AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Sitka AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Sitka AK residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify 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 Sitka AK, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Sitka AK.