Welding Schools Near Me | How to Become a Welder – Afton MN

How to Choose a Welding Training Class near Afton Minnesota

Afton MN welding school studentFinding the ideal welder school near Afton MN is an important first step to starting your new occupation 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 narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns 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 vocational school to become a welder, it’s wise 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 Degree and Certificate Training Courses

Afton MN welder working on pipingThere are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Afton MN.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Options

Afton MN welder working on poleThere are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Afton MN employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with certain kinds of welds
  • Work according to contract specifications

As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you choose preps you for certification as needed.

How to Decide on a Welder Trade School

Afton MN welder working on carWhen you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Afton MN area. That’s why it’s important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. 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 below are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding trade school.

Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as 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 securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Afton MN for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Afton MN 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 important that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Afton MN contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure 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 Afton MN welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.

School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Afton MN home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.

Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It’s easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.

Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Afton MN, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Afton MN?

Perhaps you live in the Afton Minnesota 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.

Afton, Minnesota

Afton is a city in Washington County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 2,886 at the 2010 census.[6] It is located on a small bay where Valley Creek empties into the St. Croix River several miles north of the confluence with the Mississippi River.

Afton is well known for Afton Alps, the largest ski and snowboard area in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. It is also home to Afton State Park, a popular park on the St. Croix River. Due to these two destinations and the quaint small-town appearance in a major metropolitan area, Afton receives a fair amount of local tourism in the form of day trips. Jessica Diggins, 2018 U.S. Winter Olympic Gold Medalist cross country skier, hails from Afton.

Afton was platted in 1855, and named for the poem Sweet Afton by Robert Burns.[7] A post office has been in operation at Afton since 1857.[8] The city contains three properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the 1856 Erastus Bolles House, the 1864 Newington Gilbert House, and the 1867 Cushing Hotel.[9]

Online Welder Certificate and Degree Programs

pipe welder at work in Afton MNWelding is truly a manual kind of vocation, and for that reason not extremely suitable for online training. However, there are some online welding classes offered by various community colleges and vocational schools in the greater Afton MN area that can count toward a degree or certificate program. These courses mainly deal with such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help provide a novice a foundation to begin their education and training. However, the most important point is that you can’t learn how to weld or handle welding materials unless you actually do it. Obviously that can’t be accomplished online. These skills need to be learned in an on-campus environment or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is more appropriate for experienced welders that want to advance their expertise or possibly attain a more advanced degree. So if you should find an online welding degree or certificate program, be very cautious and confirm that the larger part of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of environment.

Pick the Ideal Welding Tech School Afton MN

Choosing the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welder school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller 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 course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Afton MN.

 

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