Welding Schools Near Me | How to Become a Welder – Portage MI

How to Select a Welder Trade School near Portage Michigan

Portage MI welding school studentEnrolling in the ideal welding vocational school near Portage MI is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. 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 examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it’s sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let’s talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses

Portage MI welder working on pipingThere are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Portage MI.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical 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 working welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Choices

Portage MI welder working on poleThere are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Portage MI employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder’s ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific types of welds
  • Perform in compliance with contract specifications

As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding tech school you select prepares you for certification if needed.

How to Pick a Welder Vocational School

Portage MI welder working on carWhen you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Portage MI area. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before picking a welder vocational school.

Accreditation. It’s extremely important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example 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 obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Portage 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.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Portage MI welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It’s crucial that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Portage MI contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Portage MI welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.

School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance 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 pick must be within commuting distance of your Portage MI home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 wish to work.

Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with a couple 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 trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Portage MI, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Portage MI?

Perhaps you live in the Portage 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.

Portage, Michigan

Portage is a city in Kalamazoo County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 46,292 in the 2010 census. It is the smaller of the two main cities included in the Kalamazoo-Portage Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 326,589 as of 2010.[6]

There are two public high schools in Portage, Portage Central and Portage Northern. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer also has manufacturing operations located there, which in recent years has caused much controversy due to layoffs. Stryker Corporation also has a large manufacturing presence in the city and is a worldwide leader in medical equipment, instruments and imaging technologies. Portage is also home to FEMA Corporation, a growing hydraulic valve manufacturing company.

Portage is known for its extensive network of historical parks and trails used for cycling, walking, canoeing, and other recreational activities. Since the creation of the Portage Bikeway system in 1989, the trails have expanded to over 50 miles (80 km), over five times as long as the city’s expressways. Portage is also home to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo.

Online Welder Training Programs

pipe welder at work in Portage MIWelding is very much a manual type of profession, and for that reason not extremely compatible with online training. However, there are a few online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and technical schools in the greater Portage MI area that may be credited toward a certificate or degree program. These classes primarily deal with such topics as safety, reading blueprints, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a foundation to begin their training and education. However, the most critical point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Clearly that can’t be done online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for experienced welders that would like to advance their knowledge or possibly obtain a more advanced degree. So if you should discover an online welding certificate or degree program, be extremely careful and make sure that the majority of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.

Select the Best Welding Trade School Portage MI

Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Portage MI.

 

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