How to Select a Welding Trade School near Austin Minnesota
Finding the right welder school near Austin MN is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welding technical 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 create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Austin MN.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded 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 requirements for welders, therefore don’t forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Austin MN employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
How to Choose a Welding Trade School
When you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Austin MN area. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like 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 often not available in Austin MN for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate 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 looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Austin MN welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It’s important that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Austin MN contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, 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 already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Austin MN welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Austin MN home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Austin MN, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Austin MN?
Perhaps you live in the Austin Minnesota 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.
Austin is a city in Mower County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 24,718 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Mower County. The town was originally settled along the Cedar River and it has two artificial lakes called East Side Lake and Mill Pond. The town was named for Austin R. Nichols, the first settler in the area.
Hormel Foods Corporation is the largest employer in Austin, and the town is sometimes called "SPAM Town USA". Austin is home to Hormel's corporate headquarters, a factory that makes most of North America's SPAM tinned meat, and the Spam Museum. Austin is also home to the Hormel Institute, a leading cancer research institution operated by the University of Minnesota with significant support from the Mayo Clinic.
Fertile land, trapping, and ease of access brought first trappers and then the early pioneers to this region. The rich gameland attracted a trapper named Austin Nichols, who built the first log cabin in 1853. At that time there were "about twenty families in the area." More settlers began to arrive by wagon train in 1855, and by 1856, enough people were present to organize Mower County. It was in 1856 that the settlement adopted the name Austin, in honor of its first settler. That year the first hotel opened to travelers and the first physician moved to town, Dr. Ormanzo Allen. The first newspaper, the Mower County Mirror, was started in 1858.
Online Welder Schools
Welding is very much a hands-on type of vocation, and therefore not extremely suitable for training online. Having said that, there are some online welding programs offered by various community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Austin MN area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to start their training and education. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly 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 seasoned welders that desire to advance their expertise or perhaps earn a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and make sure that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Choose the Best Welding Trade Program Austin MN
Picking the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It’s a must that any welder training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. 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. Courses differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Austin MN.
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