How to Choose a Welding School near Wilmington North Carolina
Selecting the ideal welding school near Wilmington NC is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a school to become a welder, it’s sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Wilmington NC area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created 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 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the Wilmington NC welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Wilmington NC employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent 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 certain kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the Wilmington NC welding vocational school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Online Welder Schools
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of vocation, and for that reason not very compatible with training online. Even so, there are some online welding programs offered by certain community colleges and technical schools that can count toward a certificate or degree program. These courses primarily cover such topics as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to initiate their training and education. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be performed online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced Wilmington NC welders that would like to advance their expertise or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and confirm that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Choose a Welding Technical School near Wilmington NC
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Wilmington NC area. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important 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 need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the Wilmington NC welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered 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.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some 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 should have associations with local unions and various Wilmington NC 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 regional welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It’s crucial that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Wilmington NC contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding 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 modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Wilmington NC welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Wilmington NC home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been in North Carolina and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Wilmington NC, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Looking at Welding Schools in Wilmington NC?
Wilmington, North Carolina
Wilmington is a port city and the county seat of New Hanover County in coastal southeastern North Carolina, United States. The population is 112,067; according to the 2010 Census it is the eighth most populous city in the state. Wilmington is the principal city of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area, a metropolitan area that includes New Hanover and Pender counties in southeastern North Carolina, which has a population of 263,429 as of the 2012 Census Estimate.
Wilmington was settled by European Americans along the Cape Fear River. The city was named after Spencer Compton who was the Earl of Wilmington. Its historic downtown has a one-mile-long Riverwalk, developed as a tourist attraction in the late 20th century. In 2014 Wilmington's riverfront was ranked as the "Best American Riverfront" by readers of USA Today. It is minutes away from nearby beaches. The National Trust for Historic Preservation selected Wilmington as one of its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. City residents live between the river and the ocean, with four nearby beach communities: Fort Fisher, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, all within half-hour drives from downtown Wilmington.
In 2003 the city was designated by the US Congress as a "Coast Guard City". It is the home port for the USCGC Diligence, a United States Coast Guard medium endurance cutter. The World War II battleship USS North Carolina is held as a war memorial; moored across from the downtown port area, the ship is open to public tours. Other attractions include the Cape Fear Museum, and the Wilmington Hammerheads United Soccer Leagues soccer team. The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) provides a wide variety of programs for undergraduates, graduate students, and adult learners, in addition to cultural and sports events open to the community.
Wilmington is the home of EUE Screen Gems Studios, the largest domestic television and movie production facility outside California. "Dream Stage 10," the facility's newest sound stage, is the third-largest in the US. It houses the largest special-effects water tank in North America. After the studio's opening in 1984, Wilmington became a major center of American film and television production. Numerous movies in a range of genres and several television series have been produced here, including Maximum Overdrive, Iron Man 3, Fox's Sleepy Hollow, One Tree Hill, Dawson's Creek and NBC's Revolution.
Pick the Ideal Welding Tech School near Wilmington NC
Picking the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It’s a must that any welding school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Wilmington NC.
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