How to Select the Best Welding Training Program near Cottonwood Arizona
Choosing the right welder school near Cottonwood AZ is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Cottonwood AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Cottonwood AZ employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding tech school you select preps you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Cottonwood AZ area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types 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 example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Cottonwood AZ for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Cottonwood AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Cottonwood AZ employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. 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 already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Cottonwood AZ welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Cottonwood AZ home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma 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 an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Cottonwood Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Cottonwood AZ.