How to Pick the Right Welder Degree Program near Coolidge Arizona
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near Coolidge AZ is an important first step to beginning your new occupation 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 narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available 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, fashioned largely to develop 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which test 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 organization such as 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 things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various 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 technical school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Coolidge AZ area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. 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, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. 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 get a quality education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Coolidge AZ for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Coolidge AZ welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Coolidge AZ contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Coolidge AZ welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you select must be within driving distance of your Coolidge AZ home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most 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 want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Coolidge AZ, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Best Coolidge Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Coolidge AZ.