How to Find the Right Welding Vocational School near Gilbert Arizona
Finding the right welding school near Gilbert AZ is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Gilbert AZ area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Gilbert AZ employers not only require 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 upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder technical school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Technical Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Gilbert AZ area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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 get a quality education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Gilbert AZ for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Gilbert AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Gilbert AZ employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Gilbert AZ welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Gilbert AZ home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Gilbert Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Gilbert AZ.