How to Enroll In the Right Welder Certification Program near Fountain Hills Arizona
Locating the right welding school near Fountain Hills AZ is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous 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 right one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting 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 Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Fountain Hills AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to develop 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 complete 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 readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states 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 ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Fountain Hills AZ employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As already stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder technical school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the training 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 vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard 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 select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Fountain Hills AZ for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon 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 partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Fountain Hills AZ welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Fountain Hills AZ employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with 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 suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Fountain Hills AZ home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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 instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average 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 how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Fountain Hills Welding School for Certification
Picking the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform 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 serve your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fountain Hills AZ.