How to Choose the Best Welding Certificate Program near Coolidge Arizona
Enrolling in the right welder school near Coolidge AZ is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Coolidge AZ area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to develop 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 two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides 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 states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Coolidge AZ employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Coolidge AZ area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Coolidge AZ for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Coolidge AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate might mean 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 caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Coolidge AZ employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Coolidge AZ welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Coolidge AZ home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual 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 see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Coolidge AZ, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Coolidge Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will probably 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 evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Coolidge AZ.