How to Enroll In the Best Welder Trade School near Alexander City Alabama
Finding the right welder technical school near Alexander City AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several alternatives available to get 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Alexander City AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop 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 furnishes a more well-rounded 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 make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Alexander City AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind 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 specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Alexander City AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 significant 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 decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify 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 agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Alexander City AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Alexander City AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Alexander City AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with 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 Alexander City AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Alexander City AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alexander City AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Alexander City Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Alexander City AL.