How to Choose a Welding Certification Program near North Little Rock Arkansas
Enrolling in the ideal welding technical school near North Little Rock AR is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the North Little Rock AR.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to teach 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 two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of North Little Rock AR employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon 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 specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Tech School
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the North Little Rock AR area. That’s why it’s essential to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. 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 furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in North Little Rock AR for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the North Little Rock AR welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of North Little Rock AR contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local North Little Rock AR welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your North Little Rock AR home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near North Little Rock AR, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near North Little Rock AR?
Perhaps you live in the North Little Rock 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.
North Little Rock, Arkansas
North Little Rock is a city in Pulaski County, Arkansas, United States, across the Arkansas River from Little Rock in the central part of the state. The population was 62,304 at the 2010 census. In 2017 the estimated population was 65,911, making it the seventh-most populous city in the state. North Little Rock, along with Little Rock and Conway, anchors the six-county Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area (2014 population 729,135), which is further included in the Little Rock-North Little Rock Combined Statistical Area with 902,443 residents.
The city's downtown is anchored in the Argenta Historic District, which draws its name from the original name of the city; the area includes Dickey-Stephens Park, the current home of the Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball team, and Verizon Arena, the metropolitan area's main entertainment venue. Farther west in the city is Burns Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the United States.
North Little Rock has a long history, dating back to the Burial Mound People. It was once known as Argenta, a name that currently applies specifically to downtown North Little Rock. In 1890, Little Rock annexed the unincorporated Argenta community as its Eighth Ward, preempting a competing petition to incorporate Argenta. A neighboring area was incorporated as the Town of North Little Rock in 1901 as part of a plan to reclaim the Eighth Ward from Little Rock. By 1904, the Arkansas Supreme Court allowed the town to annex the Eighth Ward; the modern City of North Little Rock considers this its founding date. The combined city adopted the Argenta name by 1906, but reverted to North Little Rock in October 1917. A remnant of the city's earliest years can be found in North Little Rock City Hall (constructed in 1914), which still contains plaques referring to "Argenta", and contains "C of A" (City of Argenta) ornamental designs.
Online Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is truly a manual kind of vocation, and therefore not very compatible with training online. Having said that, there are some online welding courses offered by various community colleges and technical schools in the greater North Little Rock AR area that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to initiate their education and training. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless 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 want to advance their expertise or possibly earn a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and make sure that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Ideal Welding Technical School North Little Rock AR
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It’s a necessity that any welding school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in North Little Rock AR.