How to Choose a Welding Certificate Program near Flagstaff Arizona
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near Flagstaff AZ is an important 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 know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welder technical 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 vocational school to become a welder, it’s prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available near Flagstaff AZ.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by Flagstaff AZ area technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by Arizona community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes 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, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder in Flagstaff AZ.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Flagstaff AZ employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things 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 kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to Flagstaff AZ employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Online Welder Classes
Welding is truly a hands-on type of vocation, and consequently not very compatible with online training. Having said that, there are some online welding classes offered by various community colleges and technical schools that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes primarily cover such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a foundation to start their education and training. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials until you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be accomplished online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship near Flagstaff AZ. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely cautious and make sure that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
How to Choose a Welder Tech Program
When you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Flagstaff AZ area. That’s why it’s essential to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the Flagstaff AZ welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments 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 diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various Flagstaff AZ metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established 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 regional welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It’s important that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Flagstaff AZ contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate 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 not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Flagstaff AZ welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Flagstaff AZ home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most 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 subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Being a Welder in Flagstaff AZ
Flagstaff is a city in and the county seat of Coconino County in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2015, the city's estimated population was 70,320. Flagstaff's combined metropolitan area has an estimated population of 139,097. The city is named after a ponderosa pine flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston (known as the "Second Boston Party") to celebrate the United States Centennial on July 4, 1876.
Flagstaff lies near the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, along the western side of the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the continental United States. Flagstaff is next to Mount Elden, just south of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in the state of Arizona. Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 m), is about 10 miles (16 km) north of Flagstaff in Kachina Peaks Wilderness.
Flagstaff's early economy was based on the lumber, railroad, and ranching industries. Today, the city remains an important distribution hub for companies such as Nestlé Purina PetCare, and is home to Lowell Observatory, The U.S. Naval Observatory, the United States Geological Survey Flagstaff Station, and Northern Arizona University. Flagstaff has a strong tourism sector, due to its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park, Oak Creek Canyon, the Arizona Snowbowl, Meteor Crater, and historic Route 66. The city is also a growing center for medical and biotechnology manufacturing, since Flagstaff is home to corporations such as SenesTech and W. L. Gore and Associates. 
There are several stories and legends about the origin of the city's name. Surveyors, prospectors, and investors had traveled through the area in the mid- to late-19th century, and the act of stripping a pine tree to fly an American flag has been attributed to several individuals over a twenty-year span. It is said that, because of the flag that was raised, the area surrounding it became known as Flagstaff.
Find the Ideal Welding Vocational School Flagstaff AZ
Selecting the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It’s a necessity that any welding school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Flagstaff AZ.