How to Pick the Best Welder Certification Classes near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near Lake Havasu City AZ is an essential first step to launching your new career 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 notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered 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 summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Lake Havasu City AZ area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one 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 experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Lake Havasu City AZ employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things 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 kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Tech Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Lake Havasu City AZ area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Lake Havasu City AZ for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction 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 help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Lake Havasu City AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate could indicate 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 quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Lake Havasu City AZ employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Lake Havasu City AZ welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you select must be within driving distance of your Lake Havasu City AZ home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Lake Havasu City Welding School for Certification
Selecting the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way 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. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Lake Havasu City AZ.