How to Select the Best Welder Degree Program near Fountain Hills Arizona
Finding the right welder school near Fountain Hills AZ is an essential first step to starting 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 importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when evaluating welder technical 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 trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Fountain Hills AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Fountain Hills AZ employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few 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 certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder vocational school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain 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 choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Fountain Hills AZ for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Fountain Hills AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied 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 high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Fountain Hills AZ employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to 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 using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Fountain Hills AZ welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Fountain Hills AZ home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Fountain Hills Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fountain Hills AZ.