How to Pick a Welder Training Class near Helena Arkansas
Choosing the right welding technical school near Helena AR is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin 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 cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Helena AR.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Helena AR employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification if needed.
How to Pick a Welding Technical Program
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Helena AR area. That’s why it’s necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like 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 might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Helena AR for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 establish associations within the Helena AR welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Helena AR contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure 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 Helena AR welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Helena AR home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk 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 profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Helena AR, confirm that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Helena AR?
Perhaps you live in the Helena 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.
Helena–West Helena, Arkansas
Helena–West Helena is the county seat of and the largest city within Phillips County, Arkansas, United States. The current city was consolidated, effective January 1, 2006, from the two Arkansas cities of Helena and West Helena. Helena is sited on lowlands between the Mississippi River and the eastern side of Crowley's Ridge. West Helena is located on the western side of Crowley's Ridge, a geographic anomaly in the typically flat Arkansas Delta. The Helena Bridge, one of Arkansas' four Mississippi River bridges, carries U.S. Route 49 across to Mississippi. The combined population of the two cities was 15,012 at the 2000 census and at the 2010 census, the official population was 12,282.
The municipality traces its historical roots to the founding of the port town of Helena on the Mississippi River by European Americans in 1833. As the county seat, Helena was the center of a prosperous cotton plantation region in the antebellum years. Helena was occupied by the Union Army early in the American Civil War. The city was the site of the Battle of Helena fought in 1863. Confederate forces unsuccessfully tried to expel Union forces from Helena in order to help relieve pressure on the strategic river town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Later in the year, Helena served as the launching point for the Union Army in the capture of Little Rock, the state capital.
A thriving blues community developed here in the 1940s and 1950s as rural musicians relocated for city jobs. Mechanization had reduced the need for farm workers. The city continued to grow until the closing of the Mohawk Rubber Company, a subsidiary of Yokohama Rubber Company, in the 1970s. Unemployment surged shortly after.
Online Welding Training Programs
Welding is truly a manual type of profession, and for that reason not very suitable for training online. However, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and trade schools in the greater Helena AR area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to initiate their education and training. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly 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 experienced welders that desire to advance their knowledge or possibly 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 greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Choose the Right Welding Trade Program Helena AR
Selecting the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Helena AR.