How to Pick a Welding Technical School near Southside Tennessee
Choosing the ideal welding technical school near Southside TN is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s wise to establish 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.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Southside TN.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don’t forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Southside TN employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Southside TN area. That’s why it’s necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must 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 more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose 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 make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Southside TN for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Southside TN welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It’s important that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Southside TN contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Southside TN welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you select must be within driving distance of your Southside TN home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than 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 ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Southside TN, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Welding School Near Southside TN?
Perhaps you live in the Southside Tennessee 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.
Chattanooga is a city located along the Tennessee River near the southeastern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee. With an estimated population of 179,139 in 2017, it is the fourth-largest city in Tennessee and one of the two principal cities of East Tennessee, along with Knoxville. Served by multiple railroads and Interstate highways, Chattanooga is a transit hub. Chattanooga lies 118 miles (190 km) northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, 112 miles (180 km) southwest of Knoxville, Tennessee, 134 miles (216 km) southeast of Nashville, Tennessee, 102 miles (164 km) northeast of Huntsville, Alabama, and 147 miles (237 km) northeast of Birmingham, Alabama.
The city, with a downtown elevation of approximately 680 feet (210 m), lies at the transition between the ridge-and-valley portion of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau. Surrounded by mountains and ridges, the official nickname for Chattanooga is "Scenic City", reinforced by the city's reputation for outdoor activities. Unofficial nicknames include "River City", "Chatt", "Nooga", "Chattown", and "Gig City", referencing Chattanooga's claims that it has the fastest internet service in the Western Hemisphere.
Chattanooga is internationally known for the 1941 song "Chattanooga Choo Choo" by Glenn Miller and his orchestra. Chattanooga is home to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and Chattanooga State Community College.
Online Welder Classes
Welding is very much a manual type of profession, and for that reason not extremely compatible with training online. However, there are a few online welding courses offered by specific community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Southside TN area that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These classes primarily cover such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a basis to start their training and education. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be done online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that desire to advance their expertise or perhaps earn a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely cautious and confirm that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
Select the Right Welding Technical School Southside TN
Picking the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are looking at. It’s a must that any welder school that you are examining includes a good deal 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 context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Southside TN.