How to Choose the Right Welding Degree Program near Flagstaff Arizona
Selecting the right welder vocational school near Flagstaff AZ is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when reviewing welder vocational 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 trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to create 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 Classes
There are multiple options available to get 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 offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Flagstaff AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out 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 supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Flagstaff AZ employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder trade school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Technical Programs
When you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Flagstaff AZ area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard 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 offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Flagstaff AZ for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder diploma 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. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Flagstaff AZ welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Flagstaff AZ contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, 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 already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Flagstaff AZ welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Flagstaff AZ home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Flagstaff Welding Training for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Flagstaff AZ.