How to Enroll In the Right Welder Trade School near Flagstaff Arizona
Locating the ideal welding technical school near Flagstaff AZ is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several 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 offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Flagstaff AZ area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Flagstaff AZ employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number 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, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder vocational school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Flagstaff AZ area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure 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 organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Flagstaff AZ for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. 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 enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Flagstaff AZ employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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 pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you choose must be within commuting 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 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 regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. 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 if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Flagstaff Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Flagstaff AZ.