How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Benton Arkansas
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Benton AR. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details 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. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Benton AR HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. 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 professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists 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.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Benton AR.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many degrees include 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four 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 dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Benton AR, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all 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 in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Benton AR students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Benton and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Schools
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Benton AR area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Benton AR area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high 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 can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Benton AR HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical 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 comparing have working partnerships with local Benton AR HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Benton AR HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Benton AR residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Benton AR, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Finding the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are sufficient 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 faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Benton AR.