How to Enroll In the Right Welding Trade School near Albertville Alabama
Selecting the right welder school near Albertville AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 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 multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Albertville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, 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 provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Albertville AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Trade Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Albertville AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your selected 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 qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Albertville AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding 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. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Albertville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Albertville AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Albertville AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Albertville AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate 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 ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at 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 assessing provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Albertville Welding School for Certification
Picking the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training program that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Albertville AL.