How to Choose the Right Welder Vocational School near Avondale Arizona
Locating the ideal welding trade school near Avondale AZ is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin 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 cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 prudent to develop 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Avondale AZ area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to develop 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 two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Avondale AZ employers not only expect a certificate or degree 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 type of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding tech school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Avondale AZ area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training 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 vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. 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 ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Avondale AZ for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Avondale AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Avondale AZ contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure 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 Avondale AZ welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Avondale AZ home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers 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. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Avondale AZ, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Avondale Welding Program for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Avondale AZ.