How to Pick the Right Welding Trade School near Alexander City Alabama
Finding the ideal welder school near Alexander City AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Alexander City AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Alexander City AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent 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 specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder tech school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Tech Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Alexander City AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important 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 profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, 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 recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Alexander City AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Alexander City AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may 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 quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Alexander City AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure 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 Alexander City AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance 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 school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Alexander City AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alexander City AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Alexander City Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Alexander City AL.