How to Select an HVAC Training Course near Smackover Arkansas
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Smackover AR. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors 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. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech in Smackover 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, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Smackover AR HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. 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 examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it’s essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly 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 in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Smackover AR.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Smackover AR, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Smackover AR students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Smackover and study materials may 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 commitments 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 hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs near Smackover AR
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Smackover AR area and across the USA to choose from. That’s why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Smackover AR area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Smackover AR HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Smackover AR HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Smackover AR HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Smackover AR home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Smackover AR, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Smackover AR?
Smackover is a small city in northern Union County, Arkansas, United States. According to Citydata.com, the 2014 population was at 1,790. It had a large oil boom in the 1920s, with production continuing for some time.
In 1686, the French settlers called this area "SUMAC COUVERT", which translates to "covered in sumac bushes". This was transliterated, that is, phonetically Anglicized by the English-speaking settlers of the 19th century and later to the name "SMACKOVER."
Oil was discovered in this area in 1922; it attracted national attention, speculators, and an economic boom. Smackover was incorporated in 1923. In the 1920s there was a large-scale oil industry in Smackover. The industry declined here and across southern Arkansas by the 1960s, at a cost of many jobs and major losses to the area economy.
Select the Right HVAC Training Course near Smackover AR
Choosing the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you need to pick a school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if night 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 outlined 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 commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Smackover AR.
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