How to Enroll In the Best Welder Certification Classes near Alabaster Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder trade school near Alabaster AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Alabaster AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish 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 providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Alabaster AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding technical school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Technical Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Alabaster AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Alabaster AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Alabaster AL 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 program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Alabaster AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Alabaster AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Alabaster AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Alabaster Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Alabaster AL.