How to Pick the Right Welder Training Program near Conway Arkansas
Enrolling in the ideal welding vocational school near Conway AR is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Conway AR.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned 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 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 certificate or diploma 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 don’t forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Conway AR employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding trade school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Conway AR area. That’s why it’s necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that most people look at 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 provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Conway AR for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help 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 larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Conway AR welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It’s important that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Conway AR employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using 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. If not, ask a local Conway AR welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder school you pick must be within driving distance of your Conway AR home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to be lost in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill 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 attend part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Online Welding Training Programs
Welding is very much a manual kind of trade, and therefore not very suitable for online training. However, there are a small number of online welding classes offered by various community colleges and trade schools in the greater Conway AR area that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a beginner a basis to start their training and education. 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 have to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that would like to advance their knowledge or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and make sure that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Attending a Welding School in Conway AR?
If you have decided to enroll in a welder training program in the Conway Arkansas area, you may find the following information both informative and helpful about the location of your new school campus.
Conway is a city in the U.S. state of Arkansas and the county seat of Faulkner County, located in the state's most populous Metropolitan Statistical Area, Central Arkansas. Conway is unusual 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.
Pick the Best Welding Tech Program Conway AR
Picking the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. You originally stopped by our website because you had an interest in Welding Evening Classes. However, as we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It’s a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Conway AR.