How to Find the Right Welder Trade School near Paw Paw Michigan
Enrolling in the ideal welder school near Paw Paw MI is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Paw Paw MI.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Paw Paw MI employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder technical school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
How to Select a Welder Vocational Program
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Paw Paw MI area. That’s why it’s essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Paw Paw MI for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. 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. The schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Paw Paw MI welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It’s essential that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Paw Paw MI employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Paw Paw MI welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you select must be within driving distance of your Paw Paw MI home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Paw Paw MI, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Paw Paw MI?
Perhaps you live in the Paw Paw 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.
Paw Paw, Michigan
The village is located at the confluence of the east and south branches of the Paw Paw River in the northeast portion of Paw Paw Township. Paw Paw was incorporated in 1837 and is located in the southwestern portion of Michigan, on Interstate 94 (I-94) approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of Kalamazoo.
Paw Paw is in a rural location whose primary agricultural product is grapes, which are used both in the local Michigan wine industry and for juice and jellies. The St. Julian Winery and Warner's Winery started in Paw Paw. Paw Paw has an annual Wine and Harvest Festival, which traditionally occurs the weekend following Labor Day. The Festival features a beer tent, bandstand, live music, a popular grape stomping competition among barefoot locals, carnival foods, and fireworks over scenic Maple Lake. Fine dining establishments in the Theater District cater to attendees of the Festival.
Paw Paw is named for the pawpaw trees which once grew along the Paw Paw River. However, the pawpaw trees are less common at present due to the clearing of the shade trees that pawpaws require. An experimental planting of pawpaw trees on the high school grounds failed to flourish due to its location in an open, sunny field.
Online Welding Classes
Welding is very much a hands-on kind of vocation, and therefore not extremely compatible with training online. However, there are a small number of online welding courses offered by various community colleges and trade schools in the greater Paw Paw MI area that may count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a basis to start their training and education. However, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use 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 desire to advance their knowledge or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding degree or certificate program, be extremely cautious and make certain that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Choose the Right Welding Tech School Paw Paw MI
Picking the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any welder school that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Paw Paw MI.
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