How to Select the Right HVAC College near Valley Springs Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Valley Springs AR. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Valley Springs AR HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction 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 least amount of time, often completed in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Valley Springs AR.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning 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 based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Valley Springs AR, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide 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 participated in online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Valley Springs AR students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Valley Springs and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Valley Springs AR area and all over the Country to pick from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Valley Springs AR area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can produce 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Valley Springs AR HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Valley Springs AR HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing 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 tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Valley Springs 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 Valley Springs AR residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much one-on-one training 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 large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out 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 reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Valley Springs AR, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Valley Springs AR?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Valley Springs Arkansas area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Valley Springs, Arkansas
As of the census of 2010, there were 175 people, 69 households, and 54 families residing in the town. The population density was 137.2/km² (352.0/mi²). There were 73 housing units at an average density of 60.0/km² (153.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.21% White, 1.20% Native American, 1.20% Asian, 0.60% Pacific Islander, 0.60% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. 0.60% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 66 households out of which 34.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.6% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.2% were non-families. 16.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 2.85.
In the town, the population was spread out with 28.7% under the age of 18, 5.4% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 25.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.1 males.
HVAC Certificate Programs Valley Springs AR
Picking the ideal HVAC school program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding HVAC Certificate Programs. However, as we have discussed in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right 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 specialist in Valley Springs AR.
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