Welding Schools Near Me | How to Become a Welder – Bloomington IL

How to Find the Right Welding Degree Program near Bloomington Illinois

Bloomington IL welding school studentSelecting the right welder technical school near Bloomington IL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most people start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes

Bloomington IL welder working on pipingThere are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Bloomington IL.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Bloomington IL welder working on poleThere are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Bloomington IL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific kinds of welds
  • Perform based on contract specifications

As formerly mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder tech school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.

How to Decide on a Welder Vocational School

Bloomington IL welder working on carAs soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Bloomington IL area. That’s why it’s essential to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welding tech school.

Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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 make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Bloomington IL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Bloomington IL welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It’s important that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Bloomington IL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Bloomington IL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.

School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Bloomington IL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.

Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bloomington IL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, 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 emergencies.

Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Bloomington IL?

Perhaps you live in the Bloomington Illinois 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.

Bloomington, Illinois

Bloomington is a city in and the county seat of McLean County, Illinois, United States. It is adjacent to Normal, and is the more populous of the two principal municipalities of the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area.

The 2010 census showed the city had a population of 76,610,[3] making it the 12th most populated city in Illinois, and the fifth-most populous city in the state outside the Chicago Metropolitan Area.[4] Combined with Normal, the twin cities have a population of roughly 130,000.

Bloomington is located at 40°29′03″N 88°59′37″W. The city is at an elevation of 797 feet (243 m) above sea level. According to the 2010 census, Bloomington has a total area of 27.229 square miles (70.52 km2), of which 27.22 square miles (70.50 km2) (or 99.97%) is land and 0.009 square miles (0.02 km2) (or 0.03%) is water.[5]

Online Welder Schools

pipe welder at work in Bloomington ILWelding is truly a hands-on kind of vocation, and for that reason not very compatible with training online. Having said that, there are some online welding programs offered by various community colleges and technical schools in the greater Bloomington IL area that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These classes mainly deal with such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a foundation to begin their training and education. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be accomplished online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly earn a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and verify that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.

Find the Ideal Welding Vocational School Bloomington IL

Choosing the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It’s a prerequisite that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure 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 outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Bloomington IL.

 

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