How to Find the Right Welding Certificate Program near Central Arizona
Enrolling in the ideal welder school near Central AZ is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Central AZ.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Central AZ employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder technical school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Technical School
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Central AZ area. That’s why it’s necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welding technical school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Central AZ for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various 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 assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Central AZ welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It’s important that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who enrolled in 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 caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Central AZ contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Central AZ welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Central AZ home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there could 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 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. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Central AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Central AZ?
Perhaps you live in the Central Arizona area, or have decided to enroll in a Welding Program that has a campus near there. In either case, you may find this bit of history both interesting and informative.
Central is at 32°52′13″N 109°47′35″W / 32.87028°N 109.79306°W / 32.87028; -109.79306, at an elevation of approximately 2900 feet above sea level. From this location just south of the Gila River within the Upper Gila Valley, Mount Graham of the Pinaleño (Pinaleno Mountains) range dominates the southern skyline.
Central was first homesteaded by the Cluff family in 1880. The Cluffs extended the Central Canal to their lands on the eastern side of Central. Later settlers extended the canal west and north. In 1883 construction began on a one-room white rock building to be used as a church meeting house and school house. By 1884 twenty families, including Cluff, Norton, Shurtz, Bigler, and Webster households resided in Central. In 1978 the streets were named after these early Mormon pioneers. In December 1883 the Central Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was organized and Joseph Cluff was ordained the first bishop. A new red brick church was built in 1885. It was the first regular meeting house built in this part of Arizona and was also the first home of the LDS Academy from December 1890 to May 1891. A plaque east of Hwy 70 on Central Road commemorates the original home of the St. Joseph Stake Academy that later moved to Thatcher and became Eastern Arizona College.
In 1894, LDS Church historian Andrew Jensen reported on the Central Ward: "Thirty-five families or 178 souls, constitute the Mormon population, and there are only two other families in the district. Central excels in point of large orchards, extensive alfalfa fields and good grain. The meeting house is the only public building in the settlement, in which there is also a small store and a post office. There are a number of fine and comfortable private residences, built mostly of brick and adobe."
Online Welding Courses
Welding is truly a hands-on type of trade, and consequently not extremely suitable for online training. Having said that, there are a few online welding classes offered by various community colleges and technical schools in the greater Central AZ area that can be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These courses mainly deal with such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a basis to start their training and education. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or work with welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be done online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that desire to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and make certain that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Best Welding Vocational School Central AZ
Selecting the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It’s a necessity that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Central AZ.