How to Enroll In a Welding Training Program near Salem Arkansas
Locating the right welding vocational school near Salem AR is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s prudent to create 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Salem AR.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Salem AR employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding technical school you select readies you for certification as needed.
How to Decide on a Welding Tech Program
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Salem AR area. That’s why it’s important to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Salem 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.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Salem AR welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, 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 confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Salem AR employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure 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 Salem AR welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Salem AR home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Salem AR, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Salem AR?
Perhaps you live in the Salem 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.
Online Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is very much a manual kind of profession, and consequently not very suitable for training online. Even so, there are a small number of online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and technical schools in the greater Salem AR area that may count toward a certificate or degree program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to begin their education and training. Nevertheless, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be performed online. These skills must 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 knowledge or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and confirm that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Choose the Right Welding Vocational School Salem AR
Picking the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It’s a must that any welder school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Salem AR.