How to Choose the Best Welder Vocational School near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Selecting the right welding trade school near Catalina Foothills AZ is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational 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 alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Catalina Foothills AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded 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, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Catalina Foothills AZ employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like 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 skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder vocational school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Tech Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Catalina Foothills 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 also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Catalina Foothills AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, 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 choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Catalina Foothills AZ welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend 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 because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Catalina Foothills Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Catalina Foothills AZ.