How to Pick the Right Welder Training Program near Athens Alabama
Locating the ideal welding technical school near Athens AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected 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 multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Athens AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Athens AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Tech Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Athens AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic 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 offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Athens AL for schools that are not accredited. 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 Placement Programs. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and various 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 help students find employment and establish associations within the Athens AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Athens AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Athens AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Athens AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Athens AL, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Athens Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps 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 certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Athens AL.