How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Course near Athens Alabama
Locating the right welder vocational school near Athens AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish 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 Courses
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Athens AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Athens AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding trade school you select readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Technical Programs
After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess 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 decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 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 should be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable 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 also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Athens AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Athens AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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 uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Athens AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Athens AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might 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 a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Athens Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training program 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 with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Athens AL.