How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Bentonville Arkansas
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Bentonville AR. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details that you need to investigate 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 choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Bentonville AR HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs 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.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Bentonville AR.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 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 for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Bentonville AR, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Bentonville AR students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Bentonville and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Bentonville AR area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Bentonville AR area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Bentonville AR HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade 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 inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Bentonville AR HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Bentonville AR HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Bentonville AR home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools 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 Bentonville AR, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined 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 right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Bentonville AR.