How to Pick the Best Welder Certification Program near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Enrolling in the ideal welder technical school near Catalina Foothills AZ is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Catalina Foothills AZ area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly 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 complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Catalina Foothills AZ employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder tech school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Catalina Foothills AZ for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Catalina Foothills AZ 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 program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Catalina Foothills AZ employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure 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 Catalina Foothills AZ welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Best Catalina Foothills Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Catalina Foothills AZ.