How to Find the Best Welding Certification Program near Fountain Hills Arizona
Finding the right welder school near Fountain Hills AZ is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when examining welding 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Fountain Hills AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Fountain Hills AZ employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As previously stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding vocational school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
When you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two 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, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Fountain Hills AZ for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Fountain Hills AZ welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, 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 confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Fountain Hills AZ employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. 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 already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Fountain Hills AZ welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Fountain Hills AZ home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Fountain Hills Welding School for Certification
Picking the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fountain Hills AZ.