How to Find the Right Welding Degree Program near Andalusia Alabama
Choosing the right welding school near Andalusia AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when evaluating welding trade 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 selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Andalusia AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Andalusia AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder technical school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Tech Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Andalusia AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Andalusia AL for schools that are not accredited. 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 degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place 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 establish associations within the Andalusia AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Andalusia AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable 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. Otherwise, ask a local Andalusia AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Andalusia AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving 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. Furthermore, if the school provides 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 subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Andalusia AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Andalusia Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Andalusia AL.