How to Find the Best Welding Training Classes near Albertville Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder school near Albertville AL is an essential 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 notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create 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 Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several options to get 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 offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Albertville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach 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 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Albertville AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various 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 local area and confirm that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Trade Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Albertville AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as 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 recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Albertville AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Albertville 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 welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may indicate 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 verify that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Albertville AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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 Albertville AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Albertville AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Albertville AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Albertville Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Albertville AL.