How to Select a Welding Certification Program near Pine Bluff Arkansas
Selecting the ideal welding trade school near Pine Bluff AR is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered near Pine Bluff AR.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by Pine Bluff AR area trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by Arkansas community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies 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 future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder in Pine Bluff AR.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Pine Bluff AR employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some 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 already stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to Pine Bluff AR employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding vocational school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Online Welding Training
Welding is very much a hands-on type of vocation, and for that reason not very suitable for training online. However, there are a few online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and trade schools that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to initiate their training and education. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be performed online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship near Pine Bluff AR. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that desire to advance their knowledge or perhaps earn a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and make sure that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Pick a Welding Technical Program
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Pine Bluff AR area. That’s why it’s necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the Pine Bluff AR welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask 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 other Pine Bluff AR metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the regional welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It’s important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who enrolled in 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Pine Bluff AR employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm 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 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. If not, ask a local Pine Bluff AR welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Pine Bluff AR home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Pine Bluff AR, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Being a Welder in Pine Bluff AR
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Pine Bluff is the tenth-largest city in the state of Arkansas and the county seat of Jefferson County. It is the principal city of the Pine Bluff Metropolitan Statistical Area and part of the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Pine Bluff Combined Statistical Area. The population of the city was 49,083 in the 2010 Census with 2016 estimates showing a decline to 43,841.
The city is situated in the Southeast section of the Arkansas Delta and straddles the Arkansas Timberlands region to its west. Its topography is flat with wide expanses of farmland, consistent with other places in the Delta Lowlands. Pine Bluff has numerous creeks, streams, and bayous. (Bayou Bartholomew is the longest bayou in the world and is the second most-diverse stream in the United States). Large bodies of water include Lake Pine Bluff, Lake Langhofer (Slack Water Harbor), and the Arkansas River.
The area along the Arkansas River had been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples of various cultures. They used the river for transportation as did European settlers after them, and for fishing. By the time of encounter with Europeans, the historical Quapaw were the chief people in the area, having migrated from the Ohio River valley centuries before.
The city of Pine Bluff was founded by Europeans on a high bank of the Arkansas River heavily forested with tall pine trees. The high ground furnished settlers a safe haven from annual flooding. Joseph Bonne, a Métis fur trader and trapper of mixed Quapaw and colonial French ancestry, settled on this bluff in 1819.
Choose the Ideal Welding Tech School Pine Bluff AR
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welder school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Pine Bluff AR.