How to Select the Best Welder Certification Program near Atmore Alabama
Finding the right welder technical school near Atmore AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when evaluating welder 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 trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Training Courses
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs 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 prevalent welding programs available in the Atmore AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. 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 specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Atmore AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding vocational school you select readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Schools
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Atmore AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types 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 make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Atmore AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 associations within the Atmore AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Atmore AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Atmore AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Atmore AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides 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 an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools 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 Atmore AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Atmore Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Atmore AL.