How to Choose the Right Welder Trade School near Prairie Grove Arkansas
Locating the ideal welding vocational school near Prairie Grove AR is an important first step to launching 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 right one? Many prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when examining welding vocational 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 wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Prairie Grove AR.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly 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 2 years to finish 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 readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don’t forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Prairie Grove AR employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills 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
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder technical school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Prairie Grove AR area. That’s why it’s important to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose 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 ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Prairie Grove AR for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Prairie Grove AR welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It’s important that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Prairie Grove AR contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Prairie Grove AR welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Prairie Grove AR home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially 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 desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Prairie Grove AR, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Online Welder Schools
Welding is truly a manual kind of vocation, and consequently not very suitable for training online. However, there are a small number of online welding classes offered by certain community colleges and technical schools in the greater Prairie Grove AR area that may count toward a certificate or degree program. These courses primarily cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to start their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously 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 desire to advance their expertise or possibly earn a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely careful and make certain that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Attending a Welding School in Prairie Grove AR?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Prairie Grove Arkansas area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Prairie Grove, Arkansas
Prairie Grove is a city in Washington County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 4,380 at the 2010 Census. It is part of the Northwest Arkansas region, and home to Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park. The park spans a large amount of land and contains a visitor center, museum, several monuments, a driving tour and a collection of period buildings and homes.
Prairie Grove was the site of the Battle of Prairie Grove during the American Civil War. Confederate forces under General Thomas C. Hindman attempted to prevent the juncture of two Federal forces under Generals James G. Blunt and Francis J. Herron. The result of the battle was a tactical stalemate which assured permanent Union control of northwest Arkansas. The battlefield is now a State Military Park.
The Natural Resources Defense Council released an issue paper stating between that 1997 and 2001, Prairie Grove was the center of a cluster of testicular cancer cases. No clear cause has been identified but the NRDC notes the town is near a closed nuclear reactor and a low-level radioactive landfill. Arsenic from industrialized chicken manure is another possible source. In 2004, residents sued one of the poultry farms and the poultry feed manufacturer for spreading contaminated manure throughout Prairie Grove. The lawsuit did not assign blame and the cause of the cancer cluster has never been definitively determined.
Find the Right Welding Technical School Prairie Grove AR
Picking the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in How Many Years Of College To Be A Welder. However, as we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a must that any welding school that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program 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 ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Prairie Grove AR.