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How to Enroll In the Right Welder Technical School near Anniston Alabama

Anniston Alabama construction welder on the jobFinding the ideal welder trade school near Anniston AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when evaluating welder 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 prudent to develop 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 Degree and Certificate Training Courses

Anniston Alabama welder working in metal shop

There are a number of options available to obtain 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Anniston AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Options

Anniston Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Anniston AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specified metal thicknesses
  • Work with certain types of welds
  • Operate according to contract specifications

As previously mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder trade school you select preps you for certification as needed.

Questions to Ask Welder Tech Programs

Anniston Alabama electrician welding metal electrical pole

As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Anniston AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welding tech school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic types 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, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select 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 ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Anniston AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Anniston AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Anniston AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Anniston AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.

School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Anniston AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.

Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anniston AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

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Choose the Best Anniston Welding Training for Certification

Choosing the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Anniston AL.

 

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