How to Find the Right HVAC School near Mabelvale Arkansas
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Mabelvale AR. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things that you need to look into 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 covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech in Mabelvale AR
HVAC is an acronym that is widely 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 typically required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Mabelvale AR HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire 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 sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several options available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often completed in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Mabelvale 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 industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning 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 objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Mabelvale AR, later returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical 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 via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Mabelvale AR students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Mabelvale and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Schools near Mabelvale AR
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Mabelvale AR area and throughout the USA to pick from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Mabelvale AR area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure 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 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct 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 list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Mabelvale AR HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught together 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 labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Mabelvale AR HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Mabelvale AR HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Mabelvale AR residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Mabelvale AR, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Mabelvale AR?
Mabelvale was a small, unincorporated train station town in southwestern Pulaski County, Arkansas, until being annexed into Little Rock in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The area today is part of Little Rock's seventh ward, while retaining a separate postal designation and ZIP code from most of the rest of the city. The neighborhood is currently represented on Little Rock's City Board of Directors by Brenda "B.J." Wyrick. 
The neighborhood is generally defined as the homes and businesses in the immediate area surrounding the intersection of Mabelvale Main Street and the Union Pacific railroad line. Its location on the south-central fringe of Little Rock proper — as well as proximity to unincorporated communities, neighborhoods in Southwest Little Rock and adjoining towns such as Shannon Hills which share the ZIP code — often leads to varying definitions of Mabelvale's boundaries.
Most major community services are linked with the various governmental departments of the City of Little Rock. The city's street department maintains all streets in incorporated Mabelvale, notably Mabelvale Main Street, Mabelvale Cut-Off and Mablevale West Road — three of the neighborhood's busier paths. Little Rock Fire Station #18, which provides fire protection for the area, is located on Mabelvale West Road. Police service is covered by the Little Rock Police Department's Southwest substation on Baseline Road. Public transportation is provided by bus service on the Central Arkansas Transit Authority's Route #17.  
Select the Right HVAC Training Course near Mabelvale AR
Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select a technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating 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 technician in Mabelvale AR.
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