How to Find the Right Welding Training Class in Arkansas
Choosing the ideal welding vocational school in Arkansas is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen welding school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in Arkansas.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by Arkansas technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by Arkansas community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don’t forget to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder in Arkansas.
Welder Certification Options
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Arkansas employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to Arkansas employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding technical school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Online Welding Training Programs
Welding is very much a manual type of profession, and consequently not extremely compatible with training online. However, there are some online welding classes offered by certain Arkansas community colleges and trade schools that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to initiate their training and education. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that desire to advance their knowledge or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely cautious and verify that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Pick a Welding Vocational Program
When you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and technical schools in Arkansas. That’s why it’s necessary to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for Arkansas non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other Arkansas metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the local welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Arkansas contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Arkansas welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Arkansas home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the Arkansas welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends in Arkansas, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Ideal Welding Tech Program in Arkansas
Picking the ideal welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It’s a necessity that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Arkansas.