How to Choose the Right Welder Trade School near Avondale Arizona
Finding the right welder trade school near Avondale AZ is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Avondale AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Avondale AZ employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder tech school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When 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 many welder trade and technical schools in the Avondale AZ area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Avondale AZ for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding 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 educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Avondale AZ employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable 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 Avondale AZ welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you select must be within driving distance of your Avondale AZ home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma 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 subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Avondale AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Avondale Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Avondale AZ.