How to Pick an HVAC Certification Course near Russellville Arkansas
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Russellville AR. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant 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 additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Russellville AR
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Russellville AR HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved 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. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it’s essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually completed in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Russellville AR.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require 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 learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Russellville AR, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Russellville AR students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Russellville and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous 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 online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs near Russellville AR
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Russellville AR area and throughout the Country to select from. That’s why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Russellville AR area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing 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 qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent 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 broader list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Russellville AR HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Russellville AR HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing 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 school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Russellville AR HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Russellville AR residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Russellville AR, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Russellville AR?
Russellville is the county seat and largest city in Pope County, Arkansas, United States, with a population of 27,920, according to the 2010 Census. It is home to Arkansas Tech University and Arkansas Nuclear One, Arkansas' only nuclear power plant. Russellville borders Lake Dardanelle and the Arkansas River.
Before the town was named Russellville, it was known as Chactas Prairie, The Prairie, or Cactus Flats. In the early 19th century, Osage from Missouri hunted frequently in the valley where Russellville is located. Between 1818 and 1828, the area was within a Cherokee reservation, but after 1828 the Cherokee were removed to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and the land became available for white settlement. The first settler in the area was P.C. Holledger in 1834.
One year later, Dr. Thomas Russell bought Holledger's house. The first business to be established in the town was owned by Mr. Shinn, who later built a masonry structure to replace his wooden store in 1875. This building still exists today, and is known as the Shinn Building. It was built at the intersection of an east-west road from Little Rock to Fort Smith and a north-south buffalo trail to a ford on the Arkansas River. Early travelers used these established trails to pass through the valley. When the town's residents decided to name the town, it came down to two choices: Shinnville or Russellville, and Russellville won.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Classes near Russellville AR
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this post, you should select a vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are lots of 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 talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Russellville AR.
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