How to Enroll In the Best Welder Certificate Program near Alabaster Alabama
Choosing the right welder school near Alabaster AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options to obtain 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 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 common welding programs available in the Alabaster AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Alabaster AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. 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 certain kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder technical school you select readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Alabaster AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain 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, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Alabaster AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have relationships 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Alabaster AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Alabaster AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Alabaster AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Alabaster AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Alabaster Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Alabaster AL.