How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certificate Program near Flagstaff Arizona
Finding the ideal welding school near Flagstaff AZ is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible 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 Courses
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Flagstaff AZ area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide 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 provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous 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 variety of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, various states, cities 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 prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding technical school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Flagstaff AZ area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 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 need to be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 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 offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases 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 as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding 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 enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could mean 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A high 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 Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over 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 comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Flagstaff AZ welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Flagstaff AZ home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right 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 trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Flagstaff AZ.