How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Class near Blytheville Arkansas
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Blytheville AR. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors 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 within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Blytheville AR
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Blytheville AR HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination 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 along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it’s essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Blytheville AR.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning 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 dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Blytheville AR, eventually returning to earn 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 alternative to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Blytheville AR students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Blytheville and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education 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 minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes near Blytheville AR
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Blytheville AR area and all over the USA to pick from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Blytheville AR area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire 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 program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of 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 lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may produce 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Blytheville AR HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Blytheville AR HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Blytheville AR HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Blytheville AR residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging 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 students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Blytheville AR, check that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Attending HVAC School near Blytheville AR?
Blytheville was founded by Methodist clergyman Henry T. Blythe in 1879. It received a post office in 1879, was incorporated in 1889, and became the county seat for the northern half of Mississippi County (Chickasawba District) in 1901. Blytheville received telephone service and electricity in 1903, and natural gas service in 1950.
Forestry was an early industry, spurred by the massive harvesting of lumber needed to rebuild Chicago following the Great Fire of 1871. The lumber industry brought sawmills and a rowdy crowd, and the area was known for its disreputable saloon culture during the 1880s and 1890s.
The cleared forests enabled cotton farming to take hold, encouraged by ongoing levee building and waterway management; the population grew significantly after 1900. On Blytheville’s western edge lies one of the largest cotton gins in North America, and soybeans and rice have also become important crops.
Pick the Right HVAC Training Classes near Blytheville AR
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this post, you need to pick a vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Blytheville AR.
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