How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certificate Program near Alabaster Alabama
Choosing the right welder trade school near Alabaster AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Training Classes
There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Alabaster AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Alabaster AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, 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 does. Some 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 various types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder trade school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Trade Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Alabaster AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you choose 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 want to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Alabaster AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. 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 portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. 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 contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with 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 suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Alabaster AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Alabaster Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have addressed 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 prerequisite that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on 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.