How to Find the Right Welder Certification Course near Gilbert Arizona
Finding the right welding school near Gilbert AZ is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when evaluating welding trade 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered 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. Following are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Gilbert AZ area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly 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 two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies 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 potential employment. If required, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Gilbert AZ employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on 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 specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Gilbert AZ area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. 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 make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Gilbert AZ for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided 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 reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships 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 utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Gilbert AZ welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Gilbert AZ employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Gilbert AZ welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you select must be within driving distance of your Gilbert AZ home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present 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 in the evenings or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Gilbert Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Gilbert AZ.