How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class near Helena Arkansas
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Helena AR. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Helena AR HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few 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 competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, 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 wish to obtain certification, it’s essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Helena AR.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, many degrees feature 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 traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money 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 Helena AR, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Helena AR students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Helena and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Helena AR area and all over the United States to choose from. That’s why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Helena AR area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Helena AR HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Helena AR HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Helena AR HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Helena AR residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Helena AR, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Considering an HVAC School near Helena AR?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Helena Arkansas area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Helena–West Helena, Arkansas
Helena–West Helena is the county seat of and the largest city within Phillips County, Arkansas, United States. The current city was consolidated, effective January 1, 2006, from the two Arkansas cities of Helena and West Helena. Helena is sited on lowlands between the Mississippi River and the eastern side of Crowley's Ridge. West Helena is located on the western side of Crowley's Ridge, a geographic anomaly in the typically flat Arkansas Delta. The Helena Bridge, one of Arkansas' four Mississippi River bridges, carries U.S. Route 49 across to Mississippi. The combined population of the two cities was 15,012 at the 2000 census and at the 2010 census, the official population was 12,282.
The municipality traces its historical roots to the founding of the port town of Helena on the Mississippi River by European Americans in 1833. As the county seat, Helena was the center of a prosperous cotton plantation region in the antebellum years. Helena was occupied by the Union Army early in the American Civil War. The city was the site of the Battle of Helena fought in 1863. Confederate forces unsuccessfully tried to expel Union forces from Helena in order to help relieve pressure on the strategic river town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Later in the year, Helena served as the launching point for the Union Army in the capture of Little Rock, the state capital.
A thriving blues community developed here in the 1940s and 1950s as rural musicians relocated for city jobs. Mechanization had reduced the need for farm workers. The city continued to grow until the closing of the Mohawk Rubber Company, a subsidiary of Yokohama Rubber Company, in the 1970s. Unemployment surged shortly after.
How to Choose HVAC Certification Training Helena AR
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding How to Choose HVAC Certification Training. However, as we have addressed in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Helena AR.
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