How to Enroll In the Best Welder Certification Program near Andalusia Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder trade 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 pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welder 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 trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Andalusia AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Andalusia AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number 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 confirm that the welder tech school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Trade Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Andalusia AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you choose 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 might need to evaluate before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn 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. 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 obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Andalusia AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering 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. More established 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.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Andalusia AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure 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 a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Andalusia AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers 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 an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working 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 at night or on weekends near Andalusia AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Andalusia Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Andalusia AL.