How to Select the Right Welder Vocational School near Golden Valley Arizona
Finding the ideal welding trade school near Golden Valley AZ is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most people start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Courses
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Golden Valley AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Golden Valley AZ employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Golden Valley AZ area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program 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 may want to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Golden Valley AZ for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities 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 degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Golden Valley AZ welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Golden Valley AZ employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Golden Valley AZ welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Golden Valley AZ home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Golden Valley AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Golden Valley Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty 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 decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Golden Valley AZ.