How to Pick the Right Welder Vocational School near Alabaster Alabama
Locating the right welder trade school near Alabaster AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Alabaster AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Alabaster AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Alabaster AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. 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 single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, 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 might also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Alabaster AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Alabaster AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who enrolled 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 caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Alabaster AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider 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. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Alabaster AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Alabaster AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Alabaster Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among 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 need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Alabaster AL.