How to Choose the Best Welder Training Program near Andalusia Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder technical school near Andalusia AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create 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 Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Andalusia AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach 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 two years to finish 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 providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess 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 agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder vocational school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Andalusia AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard kinds 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 make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Andalusia AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial 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 portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Andalusia AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Andalusia AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Andalusia AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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 ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Andalusia AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Andalusia Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. 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 choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Andalusia AL.