How to Find the Right Welding Degree Program near Whitehall Montana
Finding the right welding school near Whitehall MT is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welder vocational 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 trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered near Whitehall MT.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by Whitehall MT area technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. 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 specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by Montana community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder in Whitehall MT.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Whitehall MT employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to Whitehall MT employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding vocational school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Online Welding Training Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of profession, and consequently not extremely compatible with training online. However, there are some online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools that may count toward a certificate or degree program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a foundation to start their education and training. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be done online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship near Whitehall MT. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that want to advance their expertise or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be very cautious and make sure that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Select a Welding Vocational School
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Whitehall MT area. That’s why it’s essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the Whitehall MT welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 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 offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. 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. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various Whitehall MT metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the local welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Whitehall MT contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Whitehall MT welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Whitehall MT home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement 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.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Whitehall MT, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Being a Welder in Whitehall MT
The town is nestled in the Jefferson Valley, which is shadowed by the Tobacco Root and Highland Mountain ranges and sits in the heart of the Deerlodge National Forest. It is also within 23–60 miles of three major airports, four colleges, five ski resorts, seven major rivers, mountain lakes for fishing and backpacking, four lakes for boating, and three hot springs. There are numerous snowmobiling trails for winter riding and summer trail rides. The mountain ranges surrounding the valley, provide excellent opportunitiy for hunting big game.
Whitehall began as a rail depot created by the Northern Pacific and Montana Railroad on September 25, 1889. The name for the depot came from E.G. Brooke, who was inspired by a similar town he stayed in Illinois while making his way westward. On September 3, 1890, the Jefferson County Commissioners accepted and filed the Townsite of Whitehall.
Public education in the town of Whitehall is provided by Whitehall School District. The district includes Whitehall Elementary School (grades K-6), Whitehall Middle School (grades 7-8), and Whitehall High School (grades 9-12).
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,038 people, 473 households, and 283 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,549.3 inhabitants per square mile (598.2/km2). There were 538 housing units at an average density of 803.0 per square mile (310.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 94.0% White, 0.2% African American, 1.7% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 3.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.0% of the population.
Choose the Best Welding Vocational Program Whitehall MT
Selecting the right welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a must that any welding school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Whitehall MT.