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How Does Welding Work?

Welding is an advanced, in-demand skill that plays a vital role in society. From keeping bridges together to completing aerospace and manufacturing applications, the work of welders helps to keep modern society functional. Could a career as a welder be right for you?

Understanding the Process of Welding

The definition of welding makes the process seem simpler than it is in practice. Welders use specialized equipment to join two elements together by creating a firm connection between them. The most common materials that welders work with are thermoplastic and metal. They then use a durable filling material to bind these materials together. Airplanes, cars, ships, and skyscrapers are just four examples of finished products that would not stay together if not for someone welding several pieces together to form their base.

The key difference between welding and other building skills, such as soldering and brazing, is that welding does not rely on separate binding material to ensure the two elements remain attached to each other. Instead, welders join separate elements together directly. People who work in the construction industry often prefer welding for the durability of products it produces and the reduced cost of not needing to use separate binding materials.

What Are the Four Types of Welding?

People who register for training to become a welder may choose to specialize in one of the four types of welding outlined below.

Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)

This type of welding relies on continuous power and wire supplies to complete. The primary goal with FCAW is to combine a base metal with a continuous electrode. An electrode is a thin, hollow tube filled to the top with flux. The flux then moves through the flux gun into the weld pool. Should you end up welding outdoors, a flux shield protects you from various weather elements. Businesses within the machine industry use FCAW the most often to produce thicker metals.

MIG: Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)

Welders in the auto industry use GMAW to repair the exhaust systems of vehicles. This type of welding is also commonly employed in the home and building trades. As a popular type of arc welding, GMAW relies on the use of a continuous wire known as an electrode. You should also expect to use shielding gas that moves from one end of a welding gun to another to guard against contamination.

Stick-Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)

SMAW is the most portable of the four types of welding. Industries that use SMAW the most often include construction, industrial fabrication, maintenance, repair, and underwater pipelines. Welders who specialize in SMAW use equipment known as stick welding or shielded metal arc. A protected and consumable electrode or stick is also necessary.

While using the SMAW technique, the stick softens with ongoing exposure to the welding flame and combines several types of metals. Its arc sits between a base metal workpiece and a covered metal electrode. The stick and its protective cover melt at the same time, resulting in shielding of the weld cover from oxygen and any other gases that may be in the air at the same time.

TIG: Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)

TIG is similar to MIG in that both use an electric arc. You will use an electrode made from tungsten when working with GTAW. Tungsten is one of the toughest types of metals available across all industries, and it will not burn off or dissolve as some other metals do when exposed to the same heat intensity.

GTAW relies on a process known as fusion, which means that it may or may not use any type of filler material. Another thing that makes GTAW different from the other types of welding is that it uses argon, helium, or a similar type of external gas supply. The aerospace industry and several types of industrial businesses use GTAW the most. Farmers may also use GTAW to weld wagon frames and fenders.

Request Information About Welding Programs from Vocational Training Institute

Welding can be a satisfying and lucrative career, but people considering it need to complete a training program first to ensure they are prepared for the demands and hazards. Vocational Training Institute offers a 287-hour welding course that prepares students for an apprenticeship in this growing field. You may register to complete welding training or contact us with additional questions.

A Guide to Welding and Fabrication Slang

Welding requires a skill set that’s taught in school, but it’s also necessary to know the field’s lingo if you’re to have a successful career. If you’re new to the welding and fabrication field, here’s some of the most common slang that you’ll hear and what each term means.

Welding Technique Slang

All professionals develop shorthand terms for the work they do. In welding and fabrication, there are several slang terms for the techniques that you and others will use. Knowing these is essential if you’re to follow instructions properly.

  • Stringer Bead: A stringer bead is a straight and narrow weld bead. It’s formed by moving the SMAW electrode in a straight pass along the weld joint.
  • Root Pass: A root pass is the first weld bead that’s placed in a multipass weld. The bead sits directly in the weld joint.
  • Fill Pass: A fill pass is the second weld bead place in a multipass weld. The bead is placed on the root pass, and it uses the amount necessary to fill the joint. In some cases multiple fill passes are required. A fill pass is frequently referred to as simply a “fill.”
  • Cap Pass: A cap pass is the last weld made in a multipass weld. The bead can be either a stringer bead, or weave back and forth.
  • Fisheye: Fisheye is a reference to the puddle shape when welding. It might also refer to the crater shape when a pass is complete.
  • Keyhole: Keyhole is a reference to the hole that forms in an open-root joint weld. The keyhole makes it easy to get good penetration and tie-in when the weld is completed. This work is often done with an AWS 6010 SMAW electrode.

Welding Personnel Slang

Welders and fabricators also have slang terms for people who work in the field. You’ll probably hear the following terms at some point:

  • Bugger: A bugger is a welder’s assistant. The prep, cleanup and might run more passes between completion and visual inspection.
  • Rookie: A rookie is someone new in the field, as is true in most uses of the term. Green and greenhorn are suitable alternative terms.
  • Golden Arm: A golden arm is someone who has excellent welding technique and consistently produces solid results. Such a welder has been in the field for some time.
  • Shoulder to the Holder: Shoulder to the holder describes a welder that uses more brawn than brains, strongarming many jobs.
  • ROMF: A ROMF is a welder who’s no longer needed on a project. This is frequently due to their performance.
  • Meat Hand: The term meat hand comes from “bead hand.” This is a welder who runs root passes on pipeline jobs. Meat hands tend to be skilled welders.
  • Shield Archer: A shield archer is any welder who uses SMAW equipment.
  • Zorro: A zorro is a shield archer who’s attempting to unstick the SMAW equipment.
  • Drinking Hand: A drinking hand is someone in the field who drinks alcohol excessively. The term doesn’t carry negative connotations.
  • Potato Face: A potato face describes someone in their field who has flash-burned eyes. The term stems not so much from the appearance but from the use of potato in treating flash burn.

Start Your Career in Welding and Fabrication

If you’re new to welding and fabrication, get the training you need to have a successful career in this field at Vocational Technical Institute. Contact us today to learn more about our curriculum and how it’ll prepare you.

Reputation Marketing and HVAC Careers

A catchy jingle used to be the peak of marketing.

When you wanted to get your name out there as an HVAC business or HVAC technician, all you had to do was put together a clever rhyme, set it to some memorable music, and then wait for people to show up.

Things are a lot more complicated these days, in the age of the internet. People comparison shop, check lists, and — most importantly — read customer reviews. Which means everyone, including HVAC technicians and business owners, need to look for new ways to promote their services.

Enter: reputation marketing.

What Is Reputation Marketing?

Reputation marketing is born from a combination of brand marketing and reputation management.

  • Brand marketing: the tactics behind creating and publicizing a strong brand — including logo, messaging, company values, customer experience — and building that brand’s value
  • Reputation management: the effort you put into responding to and influencing how the public perceives your business, including minimizing negative reviews and resolving customer complaints

Reputation marketing involves taking aspects from both of those areas to build great word-of-mouth-style advertising and bring in new customers.

You use all of the assets of your brand and what people are saying about it as your primary focus for promoting and marketing your services.

Unlike reputation management, which is all about reactions — reacting to complaints, reacting to negative feedback, and so on — reputation marketing is active and focused on the positive.

It’s a matter of leveraging customer reviews and ratings, testimonials, social media chatter, community awards, local news pieces, etc.

These days, reputation management tends to bring up some bad connotations, like killing negative reviews, buying spots on recommendation lists, or purchasing 5-star ratings from review generating services.

But reputation marketing is more about tapping into that feeling of getting a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member. You want customers to pick you not because of a sleek ad design, but because they did their research and know: you’re the best.

How Does Reputation Marketing Affect HVAC Technicians?

If you’re an HVAC technician or studying to become an HVAC technician, it’s worth it to start thinking of reputation marketing now. Not only because you want to be competitive in reaching new customers and keeping your existing ones, but because things like reviews can make you or break you in the marketplace:

  • According to Pew Research, 82% of U.S. adults will “at least sometimes read online customer reviews…including 40% who say they always or almost always do”
  • Businesses or individuals with ratings between 4.0 and 4.5 stars earn up to 28% more in annual revenue
  • 94% of consumers say a negative review convinced them to avoid a business

As a service industry, it’s important for HVAC technicians to build a positive relationship with clients and customers. Oftentimes, as an HVAC tech, you’re meeting people when they are extra frazzled and extra irritable. Maybe their air conditioning went out during a heat wave or their heater isn’t keeping up during a cold snap. It can make for a stressful situation, but it also means that a trained HVAC serviceperson turning up and telling them it’s gonna be okay is an absolute hero. And everyone loves a hero.

But that’s just the first part of reputation marketing. Good customer service, positive communication, solution-focused problem solving — that’s just smart branding in the HVAC field. How do you turn that into marketing?

What Are Some Easy Ways of Using Reputation Marketing for HVAC?

As someone either working in or looking to work in the HVAC field, how do you make reputation marketing work for you? Here are a few easy steps you can take:

  • Put customer reviews on your site and encourage feedback — Your website is one of the most powerful tools in your online kit. In addition to listing your services and promoting your brand, it should also have a spot where you list reviews from current customers and make it easy for other clients to post their feedback as well.
  • Claim your listings on review sites — Claiming listings on sites like Google and Yelp let you become a verified account, which makes you look more trustworthy, helps you in search engine results, and lets you respond to reviews.
  • Recruit satisfied clients for testimonials and references — Those HVAC clients who are big fans of your work may also be a big boost in your marketing. See if they are willing to offer a testimonial that you can use in your advertising or even be a reference for inquiries.
  • Monitor your brand reputation online and have a response plan — Quickly responding to negative reviews can actually help you turn it around and sometimes even upgrade that review. It shows you’re responsive, you’re connected, you’re concerned about customer experience, and that can make a big difference.
  • Be active on social media and promote your positive reviews — Picking at least one social media platform — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Tiktok — and actively engaging on there can be a big opportunity to meet new customers and boost positive developments like a new 5-star review, a community business award, a local event you’re going to be a part of, and so on.

Getting Started in HVAC

If you are interested in getting started in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning field, before the brand, before the customers, and before the reputation marketing comes education and training. The first step toward running your own HVAC business is becoming a journeyman HVAC technician, which you can do in as little as 24 weeks with training from Vocational Training Institute.

If you’re interested in finding out more about VTI’s HVAC technician training in Phoenix, AZ, contact us today to speak with one of our advisors.

Five Major Myths About HVAC Services

HVAC is a service that continues to be in high demand, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a 4% growth in demand for HVAC technicians from 2019-2029. However, in spite of the growing demand for HVAC technicians and the surprisingly high average salary that they receive, a number of unfortunate myths about the field of HVAC still abound and wrongly discourage many people from pursuing a career in this promising field. To help clear up some of the misconceptions regarding a career in HVAC, we’ll take a look at the five most common myths about HVAC services.

Myth #1: HVAC Doesn’t Pay Well

While many assume that HVAC is a low-paying career for low-skill workers, this is a misconception that couldn’t be further from the reality of this rewarding career. According to Ideed.com. HVAC technicians earn an average salary of $47,363 a year, with technicians who have been on the job for ten years or longer earning an average salary of $64,157 a year. Suffice it to say that if you are looking for a well-paying job that doesn’t require a college degree then HVAC is certainly an excellent field to consider.

Myth #2: Only Men go into HVAC

While it is true that HVAC is a male-dominated industry, this is a fact that is quickly changing. As of 2017, a little over 2% of all HVAC technicians were women. This may not sound like much, but it’s a number that is more than double the number that it was in 2013 when only .8% of HVAC technicians were female. Regardless of your gender, HVAC is a field that offers exceptional opportunities – and with a growing emphasis on attracting women to the HVAC trade, the number of women who take advantage of all the opportunities that HVAC presents is sure to continue increasing.

Myth #3: It’s Difficult to Find Employment as an HVAC Technician

We’ve already discussed the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a 4% growth in demand for HVAC technicians from 2019-2029, which dispels this myth right out of the gate given that this growth rate is on par with the overall job outlook. As long as people continue to enjoy heating and air-conditioning – a fact that doesn’t seem likely to change in our lifetime – HVAC services will continue to be in demand.

Myth #4: There is no Opportunity for Career Advancement in the HVAC Industry

Did you know that 16% of HVAC technicians go on to own their own service business? This possibility of going into business for yourself is one excellent opportunity for advancement that a career in HVAC offers, but it isn’t the only one. Working in HVAC can also open doors for a wide range of other career paths and create experience and connections that you will be able to leverage for the rest of your career.

Myth #5: It’s Difficult to Become an HVAC Technician

Becoming an HVAC technician does require you to earn your license by completing training and courses that, in totality, tend to take a little less than two years to finish. Thankfully, there is plenty of great options to choose from when it comes to finding an institution that provides HVAC training.

At the Vocational Training Institute, we are proud to provide hands-on training from some of the most experienced instructors in the HVAC field in order to help the next generation of HVAC technicians excel at their careers. If you would like to learn more about receiving the high-quality training you need to enjoy a rewarding career in HVAC, feel free to contact us at Vocational Training Institute today!

By the Numbers: How Technical Training Programs Measure up to Traditional College

Just coming off high school graduation season, one of the most common questions young people are being asked right now is probably, “Where are you going to college?” It’s almost taken as a given that a traditional four-year institution is the main ticket to a great career, but this one-size-fits-all approach leaves a lot to be desired. Not everyone has the money, time, and resources to sink into years of education, and a growing number of students are discovering programs at technical schools give them the in-demand skills and long-term career prospects that they can build a future on.

What Is Technical School?

A technical school is sometimes also called a trade school, vocational school, or vocational college. While traditional universities often have a very broad range of courses and majors, technical schools tend to be very program-specific, focused on teaching you hands-on skills that are directly applicable to your chosen career path. A lot of times, technical schools revolve around trade careers that are in-demand all over the U.S. — like HVAC technology, welding, electrical technology, plumbing, and so on.

Technical School Vs. College: By the Numbers

How Long It Takes

One of the biggest differences between technical schools and traditional college is the length of time that you’re in the classroom. College tends to be as much about the “experience” as about the learning, and the majority of students are aiming to get their bachelor’s degree, a process that can take four years or sometimes more.

Technical schools, on the other hand, are often about preparing students for the workforce as quickly and as effectively as possible, so there isn’t a lot of time wasted with extracurriculars or general education courses.

Many technical training programs take a year or less, and still others can be completed in just a few short months. The HVAC/R Technician Training Program at VTI takes just 4-10 weeks. (4 weeks if taking day classes and 10 weeks if taking night classes), which gets you out on the job and working in a fraction of the time as the typical college major.

What It Costs

The differences between college and technical school can add up in the bank account as well. Unlike a few decades ago, it’s no longer really possible to pay your way through a four-year degree at a university with a part-time job and a few late nights. The cost of a college education has gone through the roof.

A 2018 report from the National Center for Education Statistics found that the average total tuition for a 4-year public institution was $8,798 per year (or $35,192 for four years) in 1985, but $20,050 ($80,200 for four years) in 2017. This means that the majority of U.S. students are having to take out loans to cover the cost of college — in fact, 62% of college seniors who graduated in 2019 had debt, owing an average of $28,950 for those who earned bachelor’s degrees.

A program at a technical school, on the other hand, can often cost just a fraction of that in tuition for the whole program, start to finish, because you’re paying just for the training you need and you’re not having to hand over extra in fees to fund things like campus clubs and activities.

For example, an HVAC certification program can average somewhere between $15,000-$20,000 for the complete education package, in comparison to the $80,000+ price tag for a bachelor’s degree. That includes classes, books, tools, training materials, and preparation for certification requirements — essentially everything you need to get ready for your new career path.

Job Outlooks and Earning Potential

Attending a technical school isn’t just about the advantage it gives you when it comes to graduating sooner and with a much smaller debt burden. Because technicial schools offer career-focused programs, they are often geared toward preparing you for jobs where demand is strong and there are real opportunities for you to build a future.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of HVAC technicians is expected to grow by 4% over the next several years, adding over 15,000 jobs as more and more new construction and a push toward energy efficiency drives industry growth. Employment of welders is expected to be close to the same, with infrastructure projects across the nation in particular factoring into the over 13,000 new welding job openings.

Salaries in these areas can vary widely depending on your location and experience, but the media annual wage for HVAC mechanics in May of 2020 was $50,590, with the top 10 percent earning more than $80,820. Welders, too, pulled in strong salaries, with a median annual wage of $44,190 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $66,250.

What to Expect From a Technical School Program

The exact specifics of what a program from a technical or vocational school will look like very much depends on the field and career you’re looking to become a part of. If you’re interested in the trades, for example, you should likely look for and expect a school to offer a lot of hands-on training in the skills and tools you need. Make sure you look into the course list for any program you’re considering so that you have a clear picture of what you will learn during your studies.

An HVAC training program, for example, should include a balance of both residential and commerical systems; best practices for troubleshooting and maintenance; an overview of the latest innovations in heating and cooling, including heat pumps and solar; and preparation for the certification exams you will need to work. Welding training programs should place a big emphasis with OSHA training requirements and safety, in addition to metal preparations, cutting techniques, and welding codes and provisions.

Welding and HVAC Certification

If you’re interested in learning more about trade and technical school and the opportunities available to you in careers like HVAC and welding, contact Vocational Training Institute and talk to one of your academic advisors for more information.

Becoming an HVAC Tech: The What, Why, and How

The HVAC industry is growing quickly, and technicians who know the ins and outs of these systems are in high demand. In Arizona, the average hourly rate for an HVAC tech is $25.21/hour and $5,875 per year in overtime.

This field is expected to continue to grow as technology to heat and cool improves. For someone looking to jump into a new career or make a career change, getting the skills you need to be an HVAC tech could be a great move.

What is an HVAC technician?

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration are all components of every home and workplace. When they are working properly, most people do not give them much thought. However, they can significantly decrease someone’s home or working environment if they break down or do not work efficiently.

The professionals who work on these systems are commonly known as HVAC technicians. They will work in a variety of settings—from homes to large factories to schools. They not only do repairs and address maintenance, but they are also vital experts to have when someone builds a new property.

As an HVAC tech, you can specialize in one or more types of indoor climate control systems. For example, you might want to work exclusively with air conditioners and furnaces, or you could focus on solar panels or commercial refrigeration. While each focus area has the same general goal, the information you need to install or work on those units is very different.

Why would you want to be an HVAC tech?

An HVAC technician’s job can be very complicated, but it can be rewarding as well. There are a few reasons that you might want to consider this type of career field.

1. It has a great job outlook.

Air conditioners, refrigerators, heating systems, and other HVAC-focused equipment are certainly not going away any time soon. It is very likely that Americans will always need someone who has the skill and knowledge to work on these systems. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that HVAC tech employment growth is expected to be 15% through at least 2026.

2. It has good compensation.

While the average compensation for HVAC techs in Arizona is just above $25/hour, some positions pay significantly higher as well. Those in the highest 10% of earners will see wages more along the lines of roughly $60,000 to $75,000 per year. Those numbers change depending on where you end up in the United States as well. Those who specialize in certain areas will often see a pay increase too.

3. You can work and live almost anywhere.

The skills that you learn as an HVAC technician will help you get a job in your field just about anywhere in the United States. If you specialize in a certain type of system, you may be a bit more limited, but not much.

4. You get to make a difference in people’s lives and businesses.

Both residents and businesses place a lot of emphasis on having a comfortable working and living environment. By providing services, you help people live healthier, more comfortable lives. You can also help the environment in learning energy-efficient systems and methods as well.

5. Training does not require a four-year college degree.

You do not need a bachelor’s degree to become a certified HVAC tech. You can complete the training you need in as little as four to ten weeks for an entry-level position. This type of training is not only far less time-consuming—it is also much more cost-effective.

6. It offers an opportunity to problem-solve and work with your hands.

Many people enjoy the work involved with being an HVAC tech. It requires some creativity and technical know-how. You solve problems by troubleshooting systems, which can be very rewarding for many workers.

How can I become an HVAC technician?

You can either attempt to jump into an apprenticeship as an HVAC tech, or you can go to a trade school like Vocational Training Institute. While apprenticeships can be very effective learning tools, they can be difficult to set up. Instead, many people choose to get training first and then transition into an apprenticeship.

Whatever path you choose, be sure that your learning experience has hands-on training that you can take advantage of. At VTI, for example, students go through practical learning workshops as they learn concepts in the classroom. Applying what you read and getting your hands dirty is one of the best ways to learn.

In Arizona, you must be certified to work on your own as an HVAC technician. To get your EPA Certification, you must pass a written exam.

Ready to Learn More?

If you think being an HVAC tech sounds like the right career option for you, contact us to set up a campus tour or get more information. You can email admissions@hvactechschool.com or give us a call to get in touch with our admissions department.

How to Become a Welder: Everything You Need to Know

The need for skilled welders is growing at a rate of about 3 percent per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, that growth rate could accelerate greatly if Congress passes a major bill to upgrade aging infrastructure in the US. Either way, the need for skilled welders in America is only going to continue increasing. If you’re interested in becoming a welder, keep reading for step-by-step instructions on how to enter this exciting field.

In most states, you will be required to go through training, certification and then licensing in order to be eligible for employment as a welder.

Step 1: We Do Not Require High School Diploma or Equivalent

A high school diploma or equivalent is not necessary for acceptance into this certified welding school. But you might get some early exposure to a welding class, depending on where you go to high school.

Some important coursework to complete at the high school level includes algebra, geometry and/or mechanical drawing. Welders are required to do a lot of measuring and calculation, so these courses provide a good base of knowledge for the trade. Science classes can also provide a better understanding of how and why welding and its chemical processes work.

Step 2: Earn Your Welding Certificate or Degree

The next step is to apply for a welding trade school is to find a school that offers certification from the American Welding Society that offers a welding certificate. VTI is one of the few in Arizona. For example, you can start the process at the Vocational Training Institute (VTI) in Phoenix by taking our Welding Technology Career Training Readiness Quiz.

Once you are accepted into our Welding Trade School, you will go through nearly 300 hours of class training. Your time at VTI prepares you for a career in welding through in-class safety and theoretical coursework, as well as many hours of practical, hands-on experience in welding.

Upon completion of your training at VTI, you will be awarded a diploma in welding as well as your 10-hour OSHA safety card. A graduate of VTI is fully prepared for employment as an apprentice welder.

If you wish to seek advanced training as a welder, additional opportunities include earning an Associate’s degree at a two-year institute or a Bachelor’s degree at a four-year institute.

Step 3: Become a Welding Apprentice

Entering into an apprenticeship as welder allows you to begin making money as you become more skilled at your trade. An apprentice works on a job site with experienced welders who will teach them additional hands-on skills, work safety and more.

You will be out of the classroom in an apprenticeship, and improving on everything you learned at welding school in a real-world setting. It also gives you experience with a company that will increase your value in the sight of future employers.

Step 4: Become Certified as a Welder

Most of the certifications for welders in the US are offered through the American Welding Society (AWS). A certificate from the AWS requires payment of a fee and passing a test. Higher-level certifications may require a certain amount of on-the-job training, or a higher-level degree in welding before they can be earned.

In addition, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) have their own individual certifications for welders. If an employer has a specific type of equipment that they work on exclusively, they may have their own certification process for welders.

Here are some of the certificates that can be earned from the American Welding Society:

  • Certified Welder (CW): Your coursework at VTI fully prepares you to pass this exam for certification.
  • Certified Welding Inspector (CWI): Additional education and a certain time period of employment as a welder is required before taking this test.
  • Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI): Even further education and more years of experience are required to qualify for this test.
  • Certified Welding Educator (CWE): A full-time or part-time teaching job, a welding certification and more are required to qualify for this test.
  • VTI helps get Positions in structural and pipe welding.

Further Information on a Welding Career

As with all professions, on-the-job experience and additional training will allow a person to command a higher salary. As of 2019, the national average salary for certified welders was around $40,000 per year per BLS. Salary ranges vary widely depending on what part of the country you live in and the job type.

For example, welding salaries can range from the $26,000 range in some parts of the country, while welders working for petroleum companies on the North Slope in Alaska can earn well over $60,000 a year.

Contact VTI to Start Your Welder Training Path

If you’re interested in learning more about a career as a welder, or you feel that you’re ready to enter our Welding Trade School, Contact Us at the Vocational Training Institute in Phoenix today!