How to Find the Best Welding Training Program near Athens Alabama
Locating the ideal welder trade school near Athens AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 develop 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 Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Athens AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Athens AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding trade school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Athens AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Athens AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Athens AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Athens AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure 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 Athens AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Athens AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Athens AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Athens Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Athens AL.