How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class near Benton Arkansas
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Benton AR. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to get 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. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion 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 explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Benton AR HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Benton AR.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, many 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 four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Benton AR, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Benton AR students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Benton and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Benton AR area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Benton AR area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Benton AR HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Benton AR HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using 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 expecting. If not, ask a local Benton AR HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Benton AR home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one 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. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Benton AR, check that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Benton AR.