How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Bella Vista Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Bella Vista AR. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly 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 skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Bella Vista AR HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized 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 professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in as little as 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 programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Bella Vista AR.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, along 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 gaining some experience in the trade in Bella Vista AR, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Bella Vista AR students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Bella Vista and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Bella Vista AR area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Bella Vista AR area have received 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 example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Bella Vista AR HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Bella Vista AR HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Bella Vista AR HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Bella Vista AR home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive 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 big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Bella Vista AR, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Learn More About Bella Vista Heating and Cooling Trade Schools In Your Area
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Bella Vista AR.