How to Pick the Best Welding Training Program near Andalusia Alabama
Choosing the right welder vocational school near Andalusia AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 wise to develop 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 a number of 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Andalusia AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 furnishes a more well-rounded 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 prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Andalusia AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Some 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 specific kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Andalusia AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Andalusia AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some 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 should 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Andalusia AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Andalusia AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure 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 Andalusia AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you choose must be within driving distance of your Andalusia AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some 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 certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Andalusia AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Andalusia Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Andalusia AL.