How to Select the Right Welding Vocational School near Flagstaff Arizona
Enrolling in the ideal welder trade school near Flagstaff AZ is an important 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 choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Flagstaff AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned 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 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 providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Flagstaff AZ employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various 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, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Flagstaff AZ area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you select 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 specific program the school has, 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 recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Flagstaff AZ for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided 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. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place 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 relationships within the Flagstaff AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, 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 Flagstaff AZ employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Flagstaff AZ welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you choose must be within driving distance of your Flagstaff AZ home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Flagstaff Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Flagstaff AZ.