As of 2008, there were approximately 412,000 welders in the U.S., earning an average hourly wage of $16.13, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To join this profession, workers need training in how to perform different welds using a variety of metals. By opening a welding trades school you can pave a career path for many such workers by providing them the necessary training.
Seek support. Put together an advisory committee for your welding school that can give advice and support. Look for leaders in the welding industry, such as owners of local welding shops or supervisors and foremen of the welding department in major manufacturing facilities. Getting individuals familiar with the local welding industry involved allows you to tailor your school to their needs, which can increase job opportunities for graduates when they exit your program.
Acquire funding. Ask your advisory committee members to contribute money to start up your school. Sell them on how the school will save them money by reducing the expenses they pay in recruiting and training a new staff member since your school will be able to feed them graduates who are trained and job ready. If they are unable to provide cash for the start-up, inquire about donating equipment or metal remnants that students can practice on. Seek out donations from community members and check with your state department of education to learn what options exist for state and federal funding when starting your school.
Obtain a location. Find a facility that provides adequate room for you to operate a welding shop safely with multiple students working on projects at the same time. Ideally, this should be an open room that you can install welding booths in. This allows the instructor to be able to monitor all students at the same time as they work. The location should also have a separate room or area where tables can be set up to provide classroom instruction in welding safety, blueprint reading, welding practices and different metal properties.
Develop policies and curriculum. Use the advisory council to determine what welding information a student must have before they enter a job in the local welding field. Create different courses based on the information a student needs to know. Put the courses in a chronological order that allows a student to enter the program with no welding knowledge and exit it as a job-ready welder. Write out the policies that will govern your welding trade school including how students will be admitted, what the cost of attending the school will be and what will be the grounds for dismissal of a student.
Hire an instructor. If you don't have the experience or certification to serve as the welding trade instructor, employ an individual who does. This person should have experience working in the welding industry, preferably in the local area. Previous experience teaching in the welding field or supervising welders is also preferred. Consider hiring additional staff, if needed, to help monitor students working in the welding lab or manage the administrative part of the trade school.
Attain accreditation. Visit the website of the U.S. Department of Education to learn which accrediting body you should approach based on your location to become certified and recognized as an accredited trade school by the federal and state government. Complete the accreditation process by submitting an application and supporting materials as well as hosting a visit with representatives from the commission. Becoming accredited allows students to apply for financial aid to pay for the cost of attending your welding trade school.
Promote your school. Market the classes and curriculum offered to job seekers in your area. Attend career fairs while also running advertisements on local radio and television. Use the web to spread the word about your school through social media channels and reach out to high school students seeking career training by visiting college fairs.
- welding image by glgec from Fotolia.com