How to Select the Right Welder Certification Classes near Anniston Alabama
Finding the ideal welder technical 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 choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Anniston AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Anniston AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Anniston AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. 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 specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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 get a superior education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Anniston AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various 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 develop associations within the Anniston AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber 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 Anniston AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain 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 professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Anniston AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. 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.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Anniston AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Anniston Welding Program for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each 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 up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. 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 decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Anniston AL.