How to Select the Right Welding Degree Program near Coolidge Arizona
Selecting the right welding vocational school near Coolidge AZ is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Coolidge AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop 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 two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Coolidge AZ employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different types 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 welder technical school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Coolidge AZ area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Coolidge AZ for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Coolidge AZ welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Coolidge AZ employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Coolidge AZ welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Coolidge AZ home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers 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 wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Coolidge AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm 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 work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Coolidge Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Coolidge AZ.