How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Program near Alabaster Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding technical school near Alabaster AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Alabaster AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Alabaster AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate 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 vocational school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Technical Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Alabaster AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Alabaster AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some 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 assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Alabaster AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Alabaster AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure 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 a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Alabaster AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just 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 instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alabaster AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Alabaster Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Alabaster AL.