How to Choose a Welder Certification Program near Kalamazoo Michigan
Choosing the ideal welding school near Kalamazoo MI is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s wise 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 Training
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Kalamazoo MI.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don’t forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Kalamazoo MI employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available 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
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding tech school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Technical School
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Kalamazoo MI area. That’s why it’s important to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. 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 following are some additional factors you might need to consider before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain 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). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Kalamazoo MI for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at 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 larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Kalamazoo MI welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It’s important that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Kalamazoo MI employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure 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 Kalamazoo MI welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Kalamazoo MI home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized 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 training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Kalamazoo MI, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you pick 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 responsibilities.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Kalamazoo MI?
Perhaps you live in the Kalamazoo Michigan 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.
Kalamazoo /ˌkæləməˈzuː/ is a city in the southwest region of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Kalamazoo County. As of the 2010 census, Kalamazoo had a population of 74,262. Kalamazoo is the major city of the Kalamazoo-Portage Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 335,340 as of 2015. Kalamazoo is equidistant from the major American cities of Chicago and Detroit, each less than 150 miles away.
One of Kalamazoo's most notable features is the Kalamazoo Mall, an outdoor pedestrian shopping mall. The city created the mall in 1959 by closing part of Burdick Street to auto traffic, although two of the mall's four blocks have been reopened to auto traffic since 1999. Kalamazoo is home to Western Michigan University, a large public university, Kalamazoo College, a private liberal arts college, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, a two-year community college.
Originally known as Bronson (after founder Titus Bronson) in the township of Arcadia, the names of both the city and the township were changed to "Kalamazoo" in 1836 and 1837, respectively. The Kalamazoo name comes from a Potawatomi word, first found in a British report in 1772. However, the Kalamazoo River, which passes through the modern city of Kalamazoo, was located on the route between Detroit and Fort Saint-Joseph (nowadays Niles, Michigan). French-Canadian traders, missionaries, and military personnel were quite familiar with this area during the French era and thereafter. The name for the Kalamazoo River was then known by Canadians and French as La rivière Kikanamaso. The name "Kikanamaso" was also recorded by Father Pierre Potier, a Jesuit missionary for the Huron-Wendats at the Assumption mission (south shore of Detroit), while en route to Fort Saint-Joseph during the fall of 1760. Legend has it that "Ki-ka-ma-sung," meaning "boiling water," referring to a footrace held each fall by local Native Americans, who had to run to the river and back before the pot boiled. Still another theory is that it means "the mirage or reflecting river." Another legend is that the image of "boiling water" referred to fog on the river as seen from the hills above the current downtown. The name was also given to the river that flows almost all the way across the state.
Online Welding Schools
Welding is very much a manual type of profession, and consequently not very compatible with online training. However, there are a small number of online welding programs offered by various community colleges and technical schools in the greater Kalamazoo MI area that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly cover such subjects as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a beginner a basis to begin 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 more appropriate for seasoned welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding certificate or degree program, be very careful and verify that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Right Welding Vocational School Kalamazoo MI
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It’s a prerequisite that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain 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 go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Kalamazoo MI.
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