How to Find the Right Welding Trade School near Cottonwood Arizona
Selecting the ideal welder school near Cottonwood AZ is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Cottonwood AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Cottonwood AZ employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills 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 kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder trade school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Technical Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Cottonwood AZ area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two important 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 should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you decide on 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 has, for instance 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Cottonwood AZ for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Cottonwood AZ welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Cottonwood AZ employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure 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 Cottonwood AZ welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Cottonwood AZ home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one 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. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk 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. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Cottonwood Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Cottonwood AZ.