How to Pick a Welding Trade School near Smackover Arkansas
Locating the ideal welding vocational school near Smackover AR is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Smackover AR.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach 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 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Smackover AR employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding trade school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
How to Select a Welding Tech Program
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Smackover AR area. That’s why it’s essential to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that many people consider 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 considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Smackover AR for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Smackover AR welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied 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 program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Smackover AR contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Smackover AR welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Smackover AR home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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 want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Smackover AR, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Smackover AR?
Perhaps you live in the Smackover 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.
Smackover is a small city in northern Union County, Arkansas, United States. According to Citydata.com, the 2014 population was at 1,790. It had a large oil boom in the 1920s, with production continuing for some time.
In 1686, the French settlers called this area "SUMAC COUVERT", which translates to "covered in sumac bushes". This was transliterated, that is, phonetically Anglicized by the English-speaking settlers of the 19th century and later to the name "SMACKOVER."
Oil was discovered in this area in 1922; it attracted national attention, speculators, and an economic boom. Smackover was incorporated in 1923. In the 1920s there was a large-scale oil industry in Smackover. The industry declined here and across southern Arkansas by the 1960s, at a cost of many jobs and major losses to the area economy.
Online Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
Welding is very much a hands-on type of vocation, and for that reason not very compatible with online training. Having said that, there are a few online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Smackover AR area that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly deal with such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to begin their education and training. Nevertheless, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be done online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that would like to advance their expertise or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely cautious and make certain that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Select the Best Welding Technical School Smackover AR
Picking the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a must that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Smackover AR.