How to Choose the Right Welding Training Program near Alexander City Alabama
Choosing the right welder vocational school near Alexander City AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Alexander City AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Alexander City AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding tech school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Alexander City AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Alexander City AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Alexander City AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who enrolled 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Alexander City AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment 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 uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Alexander City AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Alexander City AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm 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 Alexander City AL, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Alexander City Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every 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 conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Alexander City AL.