How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Benton Arkansas
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Benton AR. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Benton AR HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination 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 field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, 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 intend to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC training 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 lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in just 6 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 related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Benton AR.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Benton AR, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Benton AR students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Benton and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Benton AR area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Benton AR area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can result in 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 Benton AR HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Benton AR HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Benton AR HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Benton AR home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Benton AR, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Benton AR.