Regardless of the type of welding program you are interested in or the career you want to pursue, one of the first things you should check for any school is whether or not it is accredited. To become accredited, a school must be reviewed by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. During this review, the agency examines the curriculum, faculty, student services, and more to make sure that the school is providing a high quality education to its students.
There are two main types of accreditation available for welding schools.
National or Regional Accreditation
This is the main type of accreditation in the United States. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes a variety of national and regional agencies that have the power to accredit schools and programs across the country. The type of accreditation for welding schools depends on the type of institution. Vocational and technical schools and programs are usually accredited by either the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges or the Council on Occupational Education, both of which are agencies dedicated to reviewing occupational, trade, and technical schools. Community colleges are usually accredited by one of the more general agencies that do not focus specifically on vocational education.
The national or regional accreditation status of a school is the first thing you should check when exploring different welding programs. Earning a certificate, diploma, or degree from an accredited institution is the best way to ensure that your credentials will be accepted by employers and that you will be eligible to take a welding certification test.
SENSE stands for “Schools Excelling through National Skills Education.” The SENSE program is a special type of accreditation offered by the American Welding Society. It is a minimum set of standards that welding programs need to adhere to when training students. There are three different curriculum levels in the SENSE program—Entry Welder, Advanced Welder, and Expert Welder—and a school may offer programs at one, two, or all three of these levels.
One of the main differences between the two types of accreditation is that unlike national and regional accreditation, SENSE reflects only the curriculum that the school teaches. Because of this, although SENSE accreditation is a good indication of a school’s quality, it is not a substitute for the more traditional national or regional accreditation.
With all of the choices of welding schools, it can be difficult to select the best one to meet your needs. Often, you don’t know for sure until you are actually sitting in class or working on a welding project. However, accreditation is a recognized quality standard for schools and programs, so as long as you are training at an accredited institution, you can be confident that you are learning the knowledge and skills you need for the job.
American Welding Society. SENSE.