How to Choose the Right HVAC School near Little Rock Arkansas
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Little Rock AR. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC training program, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Little Rock AR HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the industry 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 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 in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it’s important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can 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 Little Rock AR.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning 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 delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 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 appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Little Rock AR, later going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make certain 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 option in attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Little Rock AR students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Little Rock and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Little Rock AR area and all over the United States to select from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location 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 vocational schools in the Little Rock AR area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently 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 program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory 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 validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Little Rock AR HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Little Rock AR HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Little Rock AR HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Little Rock AR residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Little Rock AR, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Little Rock AR?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Little Rock Arkansas area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. It is also the county seat of Pulaski County. It was incorporated on November 7, 1831, on the south bank of the Arkansas River close to the state's geographic center. The city derives its name from a rock formation along the river, named the "Little Rock" (French: La Petite Roche) by the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe in the 1720s. The capital of the Arkansas Territory was moved to Little Rock from Arkansas Post in 1821. The city's population was 198,541 in 2016 according to the United States Census Bureau. The six-county Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is ranked 78th in terms of population in the United States with 738,344 residents according to the 2017 estimate by the United States Census Bureau.
Little Rock is a cultural, economic, government, and transportation center within Arkansas and the South. Several cultural institutions are in Little Rock, such as the Arkansas Arts Center, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, in addition to the hiking, boating, and other outdoor recreational opportunities. Little Rock's history is available through history museums, historic districts or neighborhoods like the Quapaw Quarter, and historic sites such as Little Rock Central High School. The city is the headquarters of Dillard's, Windstream Communications, Acxiom, Stephens Inc., University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Heifer International, the Clinton Foundation, the Rose Law Firm, and Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield. Other corporations, such as Dassault Falcon Jet, LM Wind Power, Simmons Bank, Euronet Worldwide, and Entergy have large operations in the city. State government is a large employer, with many offices being in downtown Little Rock. Two major Interstate highways, Interstate 30 and Interstate 40, meet in Little Rock, with the Port of Little Rock serving as a shipping hub.
Little Rock derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called the "Little Rock" (French: La Petite Roche). The Little Rock was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing. The Little Rock is across the river from The Big Rock, a large bluff at the edge of the river, which was once used as a rock quarry.
Online HVAC Training Little Rock AR
Finding the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Online HVAC Training. However, as we have covered in this post, you should pick an HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Little Rock AR.
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