How to Pick a Welding Training Program near Conway Arkansas
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near Conway AR is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Conway AR.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don’t forget to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Conway AR employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
How to Select a Welder Technical Program
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Conway AR area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Conway AR for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Conway AR welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It’s important that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, 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 verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Conway AR contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Conway AR welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Conway AR home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Conway AR, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Conway AR?
Perhaps you live in the Conway Arkansas area, or have decided to enroll in a Welding Program that has a campus near there. In either case, you may find this bit of history both interesting and informative.
Conway is a city in the American state of Arkansas and the county seat of Faulkner County, located in the state's most populous Metropolitan Statistical Area, Central Arkansas. Conway is unique in that the majority of its residents do not commute out of the city to work. The city also serves as a regional shopping, educational, work, healthcare, sports, and cultural hub for Faulkner County and surrounding areas. Conway's growth can be attributed to its jobs in technology and higher education with its largest employers being Acxiom, the University of Central Arkansas, Hewlett Packard, Hendrix College, Insight Enterprises, and many technology start up companies. Conway is home to three post-secondary educational institutions, earning it the nickname "The City of Colleges".
As of the 2017 Census Estimate, the city proper had a total population of 65,782, making Conway the eighth-largest city in Arkansas. Central Arkansas, the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area, is ranked 75th largest in the United States with 734,622 people in 2016. Conway is part of the larger Little Rock–North Little Rock, AR Combined Statistical Area, which in 2016 had a population of 905,847, and ranked the country's 60th largest CSA.
The city of Conway was founded by Asa P. Robinson, who came to the area shortly after the Civil War. Robinson was the chief engineer for the Little Rock-Fort Smith Railroad (now the Union Pacific). Part of his compensation was the deed to a tract of land, one square mile, located near the old settlement of Cadron. When the railroad came through, Robinson deeded a small tract of his land back to the railroad for a depot site. He laid off a town site around the depot and named it "Conway Station", in honor of a famous Arkansas family. Conway Station contained two small stores, two saloons, a depot, some temporary housing and a post office. Despite being founded as a railroad town, there currently exists no passenger service. The disappearance of passenger rail service in the region is attributed to the emphasis placed on the automobile.
Online Welding Training
Welding is truly a manual type of vocation, and therefore not extremely compatible with training online. Having said that, there are some online welding courses offered by certain community colleges and trade schools in the greater Conway AR area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a foundation to start their education and training. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until 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. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for seasoned welders that want to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and verify that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Best Welding Vocational Program Conway AR
Choosing the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It’s a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Conway AR.