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How to Find the Right Welder Degree Program near Anniston Alabama

Anniston Alabama construction welder at work siteEnrolling in the right welding vocational school near Anniston AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 develop 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 Classes

Anniston Alabama welder working in fabrication shop

There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Anniston AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.

A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.

Welding Certification Alternatives

Anniston Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Anniston AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

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

As formerly mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.

Questions to Ask Welder Trade Programs

Anniston Alabama electrician welding electrical pole

Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess 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 in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding trade school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select 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). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Anniston AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.

Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These 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 larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Anniston AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Anniston AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask 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 tips.

School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Anniston AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a few 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 profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anniston AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.

Learn More About Anniston Welder Training

Find the Right Anniston Welding Program for Certification

Choosing the ideal welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Anniston AL.

 

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