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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Bella Vista Arkansas

Bella Vista Arkansas home air conditioning condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Bella Vista AR. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some 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 benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

Bella Vista Arkansas Heating and Cooling Tech inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Bella Vista AR HVAC techs to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. 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 can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Bella Vista Arkansas home heat pump

There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Bella Vista AR.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as 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 learn how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Bella Vista AR, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Bella Vista AR students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Bella Vista and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Bella Vista Arkansas Heating and Cooling technician servicing water heater

When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Bella Vista AR area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Bella Vista AR area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important 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 utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Bella Vista AR HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Bella Vista AR HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Bella Vista AR HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Bella Vista AR residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Bella Vista AR, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Bella Vista HVAC Programs Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Bella Vista AR.