How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling School near Salem Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Salem AR. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just 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. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively 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 skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Salem AR HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be acquired 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 must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, 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 intend to earn certification, it’s imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Salem AR.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Salem AR, later going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most 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 rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Salem AR students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Salem and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Salem AR area and all over the United States to select from. That’s why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Salem AR area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 additionally that it has the network of Salem AR HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Salem AR HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Salem AR HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Salem AR home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Salem AR, check that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Considering an HVAC School near Salem AR?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Salem Arkansas area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
HVAC Degree Online Salem AR
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC Degree Online. However, as we have addressed in this article, you should select an HVAC school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Salem AR.
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