How to Select an HVAC Training Class near North Little Rock Arkansas
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near North Little Rock AR. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to receive 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. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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 discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech in North Little Rock AR
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for North Little Rock AR HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed 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 mandatory 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 could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it’s important that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near North Little Rock AR.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid 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 cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in North Little Rock AR, subsequently returning 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 Schools
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many North Little Rock AR students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from North Little Rock and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes near North Little Rock AR
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the North Little Rock AR area and across the Country to select from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the North Little Rock AR area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course 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 could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also signify 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of North Little Rock AR HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction 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 Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local North Little Rock AR HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school 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 specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local North Little Rock AR HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your North Little Rock AR home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near North Little Rock AR, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near North Little Rock AR?
North Little Rock, Arkansas
North Little Rock is a city in Pulaski County, Arkansas, United States, across the Arkansas River from Little Rock in the central part of the state. The population was 62,304 at the 2010 census. North Little Rock, along with Little Rock and Conway, anchors the six-county Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area (2014 population 729,135), which is further included in the Little Rock-North Little Rock Combined Statistical Area with 902,443 residents.
The city's downtown is anchored in the Argenta Historic District, which draws its name from the original name of the city; the area includes Dickey-Stephens Park, the current home of the Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball team, and Verizon Arena, the metropolitan area's main entertainment venue. Farther west in the city is Burns Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the United States.
North Little Rock has a long history, dating back to the Burial Mound People. It was once known as Argenta, a name that currently applies specifically to downtown North Little Rock. In 1890, Little Rock annexed the unincorporated Argenta community as its Eighth Ward, preempting a competing petition to incorporate Argenta. A neighboring area was incorporated as the Town of North Little Rock in 1901 as part of a plan to reclaim the Eighth Ward from Little Rock. By 1904, the Arkansas Supreme Court allowed the town to annex the Eighth Ward; the modern City of North Little Rock considers this its founding date. The combined city adopted the Argenta name by 1906, but reverted to North Little Rock in October 1917. A remnant of the city's earliest years can be found in North Little Rock City Hall (constructed in 1914), which still contains plaques referring to "Argenta", and contains "C of A" (City of Argenta) ornamental designs.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Certification Training near North Little Rock AR
Picking the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this post, you need to choose a technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to 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 training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if evening 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 appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in North Little Rock AR.
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