How to Pick an HVAC School near Helena Arkansas
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Helena AR. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some 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 other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor in Helena AR
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly 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, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Helena AR HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it’s important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Helena AR.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 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 for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Helena AR, later returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. 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 balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Helena AR students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Helena and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job 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.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes near Helena AR
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Helena AR area and across the United States to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Helena AR area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Helena AR HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Helena AR HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Helena AR HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Helena AR home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Helena AR, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Helena AR?
Helena–West Helena, Arkansas
Helena–West Helena is the county seat of and the largest city within Phillips County, Arkansas, United States. The current city was consolidated, effective January 1, 2006, from the two Arkansas cities of Helena and West Helena. Helena is sited on lowlands between the Mississippi River and the eastern side of Crowley's Ridge. West Helena is located on the western side of Crowley's Ridge, a geographic anomaly in the typically flat Arkansas Delta. The Helena Bridge, one of Arkansas' four Mississippi River bridges, carries U.S. Route 49 across to Mississippi. The combined population of the two cities was 15,012 at the 2000 census and at the 2010 census, the official population was 12,282.
The municipality traces its historical roots to the founding of the port town of Helena on the Mississippi River by European Americans in 1833. As the county seat, Helena was the center of a prosperous cotton plantation region in the antebellum years. Helena was occupied by the Union Army early in the American Civil War. The city was the site of the Battle of Helena fought in 1863. Confederate forces unsuccessfully tried to expel Union forces from Helena in order to help relieve pressure on the strategic river town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Later in the year, Helena served as the launching point for the Union Army in the capture of Little Rock, the state capital.
A thriving blues community developed here in the 1940s and 1950s as rural musicians relocated for city jobs. Mechanization had reduced the need for farm workers. The city continued to grow until the closing of the Mohawk Rubber Company, a subsidiary of Yokohama Rubber Company, in the 1970s. Unemployment surged shortly after.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Trade School near Helena AR
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this post, you need to pick a trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Helena AR.
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