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How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Training Near Sitka Alaska

Sitka Alaska commercial hvac contractor servicing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Sitka AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors 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 discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Sitka Alaska home A/C condensers

There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Sitka Ak.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include 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 air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Sitka AK, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Sitka Alaska forced air heat registerAttending an HVAC program online is one alternative in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also provide 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 alternative may be a more practical solution for many Sitka AK students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Sitka and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations 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.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Sitka AK HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions For HVAC Training Programs

Sitka Alaska hvac contractor installing water heater

As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Sitka AK area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Sitka AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Sitka AK HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Sitka AK HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Sitka AK HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear 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 can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Sitka AK, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Sitka HVAC Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Selecting the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally 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. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices 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 Sitka AK.


 

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