How to Find the Right Welder Certification Program near Washington District of Columbia
Locating the right welding technical school near Washington DC is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know 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 begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered near Washington DC.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by Washington DC area technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by District of Columbia community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder in Washington DC.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Washington DC employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to Washington DC employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Online Welder Classes
Welding is truly a hands-on type of profession, and therefore not very compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding programs offered by specific community colleges and technical schools that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly deal with such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a foundation to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be done online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship near Washington DC. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that desire to advance their knowledge or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful 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 Welding Tech Program
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Washington DC area. That’s why it’s necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the Washington DC welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing 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. The schools should have relationships with local unions and various Washington DC metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the regional welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It’s essential that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Washington DC contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify 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 using on the job. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Washington DC welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Washington DC home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses 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 provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to get lost in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Washington DC, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Being a Welder in Washington DC
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States of America. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. Washington is the principal city of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which has a population of 6,131,977. Washington is described as the political Capital of the World, owing to its status as the seat of the United States Federal Government and numerous international institutions, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Washington is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million annual tourists.
The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of President George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.
Washington had an estimated population of 693,972 as of July 2017. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's population to more than one million during the workweek. The Washington metropolitan area, of which the District is the principal city, has a population of over 6 million, the sixth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country.
All three branches of the U.S. Federal Government are centered in the District: U.S. Congress (legislative), President (executive), and the U.S. Supreme Court (judicial). Washington is home to many national monuments and museums, which are primarily situated on or around the National Mall. The city hosts 177 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit, lobbying groups, and professional associations, including the Organization of American States, AARP, the National Geographic Society, the Human Rights Campaign, NASA, the International Finance Corporation, and the American Red Cross.
Choose the Ideal Welding Vocational Program Washington DC
Choosing the best welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any welding training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Washington DC.
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