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How to Choose a Welding Trade School

welder working in shopThe first step to starting your new career as a welder is making sure that you pick the best welding trade school.   You are no doubt aware that there are many to choose from across the country, so just how to you narrow down your options so that you can finally make the right choice?  The short list should only include technical schools that are highly reputable.   Other qualifiers include where the campus is located, the graduation rate for students, and of course the cost of tuition.  It’s a lot to consider before making your selection, but not doing your due diligence could mean not getting the proper training to become a welder.  So before you apply to the welding tech school of your choice, here are some steps to take to make sure that it’s the right fit for you.

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Welding Vocational School Campus

welding carIf you need to continue working at your current job while training, then you may have already decided that attending a welding school is a must.   But if your objective is to attend the best school available, then you may need to move, possibly out of {state}.   Before you make that commitment, visit the area where the school is located if you are not familiar with it.  In addition to the climate, take into consideration what the local community has to offer as well as the job market if you need to work while attending classes.  Remember that you will be living there for an extended period of time, especially if the school has a job placement program.  Usually they provide placement within their local area, so your move could be permanent or at least long term after graduation.

The facilities for your welding technical school will also be important, so take time to visit the campus and check out the classrooms and training areas while there.  Inspect the tools and equipment that you will be trained on.  Make sure that you will be taught on up to date equipment that is currently being used by welding contractors out in the field.  You may even want to go as far as contacting some {city} welders or any companies that you may be interested in working for after receiving your certification.  Ask what specific equipment they use on the job so that you can compare.  Also, visit a class in session so you can observe how large the classes are and how much attention is given to each student by the instructors.  Talk with students and find out if the training and amount of one on one instruction is to their satisfaction.

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Welding School Licensing and Accreditation

welding school studentConfirming that your welding school is licensed and accredited is an important step in your due diligence to ensure that it is reputable.  Technical schools are generally licensed by state agencies, so check with your school of choice to confirm which agency issued their license.  Most likely it was the {state} Department of Education or a similar agency.  Confirm that the license is active before applying.  You also need to find out if the school has any type of accreditation.  Accreditation is given by professional trade associations and other similar organizations, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.  It is a standard of quality that certifies a school’s course of study meets their minimum requirements as set by the organization.  Making sure that your prospective vocational institute is accredited is important for three reasons, which are:

  1. A non-accredited school may not offer the quality of training that you need to be successful as a welder.
  2. If you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, it may be difficult to qualify if you are attending a non-accredited school.
  3. When applying for jobs after graduation, employers may not have a positive view of your training by a non-accredited school, especially if you have no prior experience.

You may again want to contact some {city} welders that you know or companies that you are interested in working for to find out which professional accreditations are most important in their field.

Welding Program Completion Rate

Obviously it is very important that the vocational school you will be attending has a high completion rate to graduation or certification.  If the welding program you are considering has a high drop-out rate, then it is no doubt an indication that the students were dissatisfied with the quality of the training they received.  Other indicators of quality training are the job placement rate and the average starting salary or hourly wage.  If graduating students are having difficulty finding jobs as welders or welding contractors or are starting out at low average wages, then it could be an indication that employers do not value the quality of their training.  Some welding schools have internship programs that help students gain both experience and contacts in the field.  This can be a big plus when seeking employment after graduating.  Having this type of career assistance option can be the difference between early success and a slow start in the job market for new graduates.

Cost of Welding Training

Figuring out how much you can afford for tuition and additional expenses is something you should do before searching for reputable training.  Then when comparing schools, find out how tuition is charged, either by semester, course or the total program. Additional expenses, such as for text books, equipment or tools need to be taken into account as well.  Don’t overlook commuting expenses from your home.  Find out what their reinstatement policy and fee is for students who temporarily drop out of the program due to accident, illness or a family emergency.  All of these costs must be taken into account before deciding which welding tech schools are within your economic means.  If financial assistance is a part of your educational budgeting, be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available.  Grants, scholarships and student loans may be available to you in {state}.  If applying for a loan, be sure that you understand all of the terms before signing any loan documents.  And if the school offers a non-governmental student loan option, you may want to apply for a federal government loan instead as it may offer better terms.

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Find the Best Welding Course for Certification

Deciding which welding school to attend will be one of your most important decisions before starting a new career.  As discussed in this article, there are many factors that need to be evaluated before enrolling in the trade school of your choice.  The best research methods are visiting the schools, speaking with some of the students and faculty, and monitoring some of the classes.  However you make your final choice, make sure that the school you choose offers the best education and training for your long term career goals as a professional welder.

Welder certification is based on specially designed tests to determine a welder’s skill and ability to deposit sound weld metal. The main part of the welder’s test consists of welding one or more test coupons which are then examined using non-destructive and destructive methods. The extent of certification is described by a number of variables, which include the specific welding process, type of deposited metal, thickness, joint design, position, backing, and others. Most often, the test is conducted in accordance with a particular code. Depending on product requirements the test can be administered under the auspices of a national or international organization, such as the American Welding Society (AWS), or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), but manufacturers may specify their own standards and requirements as well. Most certifications expire after a certain time limit, and have different requirements for renewal or extension of the certification.