How to Find the Right Welding Degree Program near North Little Rock Arkansas
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near North Little Rock AR is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s sensible to establish 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available near North Little Rock AR.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by North Little Rock AR area technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by Arkansas community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder in North Little Rock AR.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous North Little Rock AR employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon 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 specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to North Little Rock AR employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding tech school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Online Welder Schools
Welding is very much a hands-on type of profession, and for that reason not extremely suitable for online training. Having said that, there are a few online welding courses offered by various community colleges and trade schools that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a foundation to initiate their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be done online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship near North Little Rock AR. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that would like 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 cautious and make sure that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Choose a Welder Trade Program
After you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the North Little Rock AR area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the North Little Rock AR welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain 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 agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are provided 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 looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other North Little Rock AR 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 local welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It’s important that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher 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 North Little Rock AR contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment 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 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 North Little Rock AR welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you pick must be within commuting distance of your North Little Rock AR home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case 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 regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near North Little Rock AR, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend 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 if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Being a Welder in North Little Rock AR
North Little Rock, Arkansas
North Little Rock is a city in Pulaski County, Arkansas, United States, across the Arkansas River from Little Rock in the central part of the state. The population was 62,304 at the 2010 census. North Little Rock, along with Little Rock and Conway, anchors the six-county Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area (2014 population 729,135), which is further included in the Little Rock-North Little Rock Combined Statistical Area with 902,443 residents.
The city's downtown is anchored in the Argenta Historic District, which draws its name from the original name of the city; the area includes Dickey-Stephens Park, the current home of the Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball team, and Verizon Arena, the metropolitan area's main entertainment venue. Farther west in the city is Burns Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the United States.
North Little Rock has a long history, dating back to the Burial Mound People. It was once known as Argenta, a name that currently applies specifically to downtown North Little Rock. In 1890, Little Rock annexed the unincorporated Argenta community as its Eighth Ward, preempting a competing petition to incorporate Argenta. A neighboring area was incorporated as the Town of North Little Rock in 1901 as part of a plan to reclaim the Eighth Ward from Little Rock. By 1904, the Arkansas Supreme Court allowed the town to annex the Eighth Ward; the modern City of North Little Rock considers this its founding date. The combined city adopted the Argenta name by 1906, but reverted to North Little Rock in October 1917. A remnant of the city's earliest years can be found in North Little Rock City Hall (constructed in 1914), which still contains plaques referring to "Argenta", and contains "C of A" (City of Argenta) ornamental designs.
North Little Rock is also the eastern terminus of Interstate 30 and southern terminus of the Arkansas-designated portion of Interstate 57. Interstate 40, US 65, US 67, and US 167 all run through the city.
Pick the Ideal Welding Vocational School North Little Rock AR
Choosing the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in North Little Rock AR.