How to Pick a Welder Trade School in Arizona
Choosing the ideal welding technical school in Arizona is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen welding 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 Training Programs
There are a number of 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 offered 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. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in Arizona.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by Arizona technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 Arizona community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder in Arizona.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Arizona employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some 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 certain types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to Arizona employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Online Welding Training
Welding is truly a manual type of vocation, and consequently not extremely compatible with training online. Having said that, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by certain Arizona community colleges and vocational schools that can be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a foundation to initiate their education and training. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials until you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be accomplished online. These skills have to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that would like to advance their expertise or perhaps obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be very careful and confirm that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.
How to Pick a Welder Technical Program
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in Arizona. That’s why it’s necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 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 instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for Arizona schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other Arizona 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 help students find employment and establish relationships within the local welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It’s essential that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate could indicate 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 a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Arizona contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught 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, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Arizona welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Arizona home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the Arizona welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to some of the trainers 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 trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Arizona, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Welding Tech Program in Arizona
Selecting the ideal welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Arizona.