How to Choose the Right Welder Degree Program near Cottonwood Arizona
Locating the ideal welding trade school near Cottonwood AZ is an essential first step to beginning 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 importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to create 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Cottonwood AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about one 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 specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Cottonwood AZ employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder technical school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Cottonwood AZ area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose 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). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Cottonwood AZ for non-accredited schools. Also, 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 provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Cottonwood AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who joined 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 caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm 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 secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over 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. If not, ask a local Cottonwood AZ welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Cottonwood AZ home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely 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 wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Cottonwood Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Cottonwood AZ.