How to Choose a Welder Trade School near Wausau Wisconsin
Selecting the ideal welding school near Wausau WI is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Wausau WI area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded 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 prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the Wausau WI welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Wausau WI employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the Wausau WI welder trade school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Online Welder Training Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of vocation, and consequently not extremely compatible with training online. Even so, there are a few online welding programs offered by certain community colleges and vocational schools that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly deal with such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to start their education and training. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be accomplished online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned Wausau WI welders that want to advance their expertise or possibly earn a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding degree or certificate program, be very careful and verify that the greater part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Choose a Welder Vocational School near Wausau WI
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Wausau WI area. That’s why it’s necessary to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to consider before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the Wausau WI welding technical school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other Wausau WI metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the regional welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher 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 Wausau WI employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Wausau WI welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Wausau WI home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers 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 an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to be lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been in Wisconsin and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Wausau WI, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Looking at Welding Schools in Wausau WI?
As of the 2010 census, Wausau had a population of 39,106. It is the core city of the Wausau Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes all of Marathon County and had a population of 134,063 at the 2010 census.
This area was occupied for thousands of years by succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic Ojibwe (also known in the United States as the Chippewa) occupied it in the period of European encounter. They had a lucrative fur trade for decades with French colonists and French Canadians. After the French and Indian War this trade was dominated by British-American trappers from the eastern seaboard.
The Wisconsin River first drew European-American settlers to the area during the mid-19th century as they migrated west into the Great Lakes region following construction of the Erie Canal in New York State. This provided a route for products from the region to the large New York and other eastern markets. The area had been called "Big Bull Flats" or "Big Bull Falls" by French explorers, who were the first Europeans here. They named it for the long rapids in the river, which created many bubbles, called bulle in French. By an 1836 treaty with the United States, the Ojibwe ceded much of their lands in the area to federal ownership. It was sold to non-Native peoples. Wausau, from Ojibwe “waasa” means "a faraway place" or "a place from which one can see far away" in the Ojibwe language.
George Stevens, the namesake for the city of Stevens Point located south of Wausau, began harvesting the pine forests for lumber in 1840 and built a saw mill. Lumbering was the first major industry in this area, and other sawmills along the Wisconsin River were quickly constructed by entrepreneurs. By 1846, Walter McIndoe arrived and took the lead in the local business and community. His efforts helped to establish Marathon County in 1850. Word of Stevens' success in the region spread across the country throughout the logging industry. Loggers came from Cortland County, New York, Carroll County, New Hampshire, Orange County, Vermont and Down East Maine in what is now Washington County, Maine and Hancock County, Maine. These were "Yankee" migrants, that is to say they were descended from the English Puritans who had settled New England during the 1600s.
Pick the Ideal Welding Vocational School near Wausau WI
Selecting the best welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any welder school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Wausau WI.
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