How to Find the Best Welding Trade 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 so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Flagstaff AZ area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working 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 diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Flagstaff AZ employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder trade school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Flagstaff AZ area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two important ones that many 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 should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds 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 instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Flagstaff AZ for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Flagstaff AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may indicate 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Flagstaff AZ employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities 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 uncertain 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 Flagstaff AZ welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should 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 Flagstaff AZ home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Flagstaff Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. 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 necessity that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Flagstaff AZ.