How to Choose an HVAC School near Prairie Grove Arkansas
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Prairie Grove AR. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details 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. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech in Prairie Grove AR
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Prairie Grove AR HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Prairie Grove AR.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 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 ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Prairie Grove AR, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor 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 attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Prairie Grove AR students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Prairie Grove and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes near Prairie Grove AR
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Prairie Grove AR area and across the United States to select from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Prairie Grove AR area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train 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 list of alumni, 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Prairie Grove AR HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade 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 within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Prairie Grove AR HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Prairie Grove AR HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Prairie Grove AR home. 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 important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers 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 assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Prairie Grove AR, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Prairie Grove AR?
Prairie Grove, Arkansas
Prairie Grove is a city in Washington County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 4,380 at the 2010 Census. It is part of the Northwest Arkansas region, and home to Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park. The park spans a large amount of land and contains a visitor center, museum, several monuments, a driving tour and a collection of period buildings and homes.
Prairie Grove was the site of the Battle of Prairie Grove during the American Civil War. Confederate forces under General Thomas C. Hindman attempted to prevent the juncture of two Federal forces under Generals James G. Blunt and Francis J. Herron. The result of the battle was a tactical stalemate which assured permanent Union control of northwest Arkansas. The battlefield is now a State Military Park.
The Natural Resources Defense Council released an issue paper stating between that 1997 and 2001, Prairie Grove was the center of a cluster of testicular cancer cases. No clear cause has been identified but the NRDC notes the town is near a closed nuclear reactor and a low-level radioactive landfill. Arsenic from industrialized chicken manure is another possible source. In 2004, residents sued one of the poultry farms and the poultry feed manufacturer for spreading contaminated manure throughout Prairie Grove. The lawsuit did not assign blame and the cause of the cancer cluster has never been definitively determined.
Choose the Right HVAC Training Course near Prairie Grove AR
Selecting the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you need to select a vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Prairie Grove AR.
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