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How to Select the Best Welding Certification Classes near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama construction welder at work siteChoosing the ideal welding trade school near Athens AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 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.

Welder Degree and Certificate Programs

Athens Alabama welder welding in fabrication shop

There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Athens AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish 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 providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.

Welding Certification Options

Athens Alabama welder welding metal table

There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Athens AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific types of welds
  • Operate in compliance with contract specifications

As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder technical school you select readies you for certification if needed.

Questions to Ask Welder Tech Schools

Athens Alabama welder welding metal electrical pole

As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Athens AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national 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, 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). Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Athens AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Athens AL welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Athens AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Athens AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.

School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Athens AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers 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. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak 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 credentials and certifications they hold.

Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Athens Welding Trade Schools

Choose the Best Athens Welding Program for Certification

Choosing the right welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Athens AL.

 

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