How to Find the Right Welder Trade School near Russellville Arkansas
Locating the right welder vocational school near Russellville AR is an important first step to beginning 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 significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s prudent 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 Classes
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Russellville AR.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies 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 potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Russellville AR employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. 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
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Pick a Welder Tech Program
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Russellville AR area. That’s why it’s important to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It’s essential that the welding trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 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 offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Russellville AR for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various 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 help students find employment and develop relationships within the Russellville AR welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It’s important that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled 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 confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Russellville AR contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure 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 uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Russellville AR welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Russellville AR home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides 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. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Russellville AR, make certain that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Russellville AR?
Perhaps you live in the Russellville 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.
Russellville is the county seat and largest city in Pope County, Arkansas, United States, with a population of 27,920, according to the 2010 Census. It is home to Arkansas Tech University and Arkansas Nuclear One, Arkansas' only nuclear power plant. Russellville borders Lake Dardanelle and the Arkansas River.
Before the town was named Russellville, it was known as Chactas Prairie, The Prairie, or Cactus Flats. In the early 19th century, Osage from Missouri hunted frequently in the valley where Russellville is located. Between 1818 and 1828, the area was within a Cherokee reservation, but after 1828 the Cherokee were removed to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and the land became available for white settlement. The first settler in the area was P.C. Holledger in 1834.
One year later, Dr. Thomas Russell bought Holledger's house. The first business to be established in the town was owned by Mr. Shinn, who later built a masonry structure to replace his wooden store in 1875. This building still exists today, and is known as the Shinn Building. It was built at the intersection of an east-west road from Little Rock to Fort Smith and a north-south buffalo trail to a ford on the Arkansas River. Early travelers used these established trails to pass through the valley. When the town's residents decided to name the town, it came down to two choices: Shinnville or Russellville, and Russellville won.
Online Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is truly a manual type of trade, and for that reason not extremely compatible with training online. Even so, there are a few online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Russellville AR area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses primarily cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to initiate their education and training. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be accomplished online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that would like to advance their expertise or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely cautious and confirm that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Pick the Right Welding Trade School Russellville AR
Picking the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a prerequisite that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Probably 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 sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Russellville AR.