How to Pick the Right Welder Degree Program near Catalina Arizona
Finding the right welder trade school near Catalina AZ is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Catalina AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Catalina AZ employers not only expect 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 attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you select readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Catalina AZ area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Catalina AZ for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Catalina AZ welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Catalina AZ employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable 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. If not, ask a local Catalina AZ welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Catalina AZ home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement 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 wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Catalina AZ, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Catalina Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Catalina AZ.