How to Select the Right Welding Certification Course near Atmore Alabama
Selecting the right welder technical school near Atmore AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Atmore AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, 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 certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, 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 professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Atmore AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding tech school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Atmore AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 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 has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help 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 municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Atmore AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who joined 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 high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Atmore AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure 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 contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Atmore AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Atmore AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Atmore Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Atmore AL.