How to Select the Best Welding Training Program near Catalina Arizona
Selecting the ideal welding technical school near Catalina 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 know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options available 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 offered 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 short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Catalina AZ area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Catalina AZ employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding trade school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Catalina AZ area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 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 offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Catalina AZ for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 place their students. More established schools may have a larger 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 portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Catalina AZ employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Catalina AZ welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school 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 relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate 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 needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present 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 go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Catalina AZ, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Catalina Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Catalina AZ.