How to Find the Right Welder Trade School near Charleston Arkansas
Locating the right welding trade school near Charleston AR is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Charleston AR.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Charleston AR employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you select readies you for certification as needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Vocational School
After you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Charleston AR area. That’s why it’s important to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Charleston AR for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Charleston AR welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It’s important that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher 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 Charleston AR employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Charleston AR welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Charleston AR home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Charleston AR, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Charleston AR?
Perhaps you live in the Charleston Arkansas area, or have decided to enroll in a Welding Program that has a campus near there. In either case, you may find this bit of history both interesting and informative.
Charleston is a city in Franklin County, Arkansas, United States, and (along with Ozark) one of the two county seats of Franklin County. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,522 at the 2010 census, down from 2,965 in 2000.
In 1954, Charleston was the first school district in the former Confederate States to implement school integration in response to Brown v. Board of Education. On July 27, 1954, the school board, including President Howard Madison Orsburn, George Hairston, Archibald Schaffer, Herbert Shumate, and Homer Keith, unanimously voted to "disband the Colored School and admit the Colored children into the grade and high school when classes open for the fall semester." Accordingly, when the schools opened on August 23, 11 black children were in attendance alongside 480 whites. School Superintendent Woodie Haynes made an agreement with the local press not to cover the event, and stonewalled any outside reporters that asked questions. The decision to integrate had financial benefits, as the district had been paying a considerable sum to transport black high school students to Fort Smith, and were able to close the old Rosenwald school. Charleston suffered some discrimination from other schools and the state; many schools refused to play football against them and the band was denied the opportunity to play in some band competitions. In 1961, the first two black students to graduate from Charleston were Barbara (Williams) Dotson and Joe Ferguson.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Charleston has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11.4 km2), of which 4.3 square miles (11.1 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km2), or 2.53%, is water.
Online Welding Courses
Welding is truly a hands-on type of trade, and therefore not very compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a few online welding programs offered by certain community colleges and technical schools in the greater Charleston AR area that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a foundation to start their education and training. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously 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 better suited for seasoned welders that desire to advance their knowledge or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding degree or certificate program, be very cautious and confirm that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Pick the Best Welding Vocational School Charleston AR
Selecting the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Charleston AR.