How to Choose an HVAC Certification Class near Palmer Alaska
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Palmer AK. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech in Palmer AK
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Palmer AK HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can 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 examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it’s imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade 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 completed in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly 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 deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Palmer AK.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally 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 geared more towards 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.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term 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 getting some experience in the field in Palmer AK, later going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Palmer AK students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Palmer and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools near Palmer AK
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Palmer AK area and throughout the Country to pick from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Palmer AK area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Palmer AK HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Palmer AK HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Palmer AK HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Palmer AK residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Palmer AK, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits 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.
Attending HVAC School near Palmer AK?
Palmer is a city in and the borough seat of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is part of the Anchorage Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 5,937.
The first people to live in the Matanuska Valley, where Palmer is located, were the Dena'ina and Ahtna Athabaskans. They moved throughout the area, living a subsistence lifestyle and trading with other native groups. Their trade routes were along the Matanuska River. Russians came to Alaska in 1741 and brought the Russian Orthodox religious tradition to the indigenous peoples of the region. In the early 1890s, an entrepreneur named George W. Palmer built a trading post on the Matanuska River, near present-day Palmer. The town was later named after Palmer.
In the late 19th century, the U.S. government began to take interest in the Matanuska coal fields located north of Palmer. This interest sparked financiers to consider constructing the Alaska Central Railroad in 1904. The advent of World War I created a need for high quality coal to fuel U.S. battleships, and by 1917 the US Navy had constructed rail from the port of Seward to the Chickaloon coal deposits. At the end of World War I, the U.S. Navy distributed land in the coal fields to war veterans and additional land was opened to homesteading. Farmers, miners and homesteaders began to populate the area. The Palmer Post Office was opened July 6, 1917 under the name of Warton. With railroad accessibility, new markets for agriculture began to open up for farmers in the Matanuska Valley.
Select the Right HVAC Training Classes near Palmer AK
Selecting the right HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this post, you should pick a vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Palmer AK.
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