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How to Select the Best Welder Trade School near Atmore Alabama

Atmore Alabama construction welder on the jobChoosing the ideal welder school near Atmore AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when reviewing welder technical 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create 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.

Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses

Atmore Alabama welder working in metal shop

There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Atmore AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Options

Atmore Alabama welder welding metal table

There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Atmore AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

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

As already mentioned, many 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 way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding tech school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.

Topics to Ask Welder Tech Schools

Atmore Alabama welder welding electrical pole

Once you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Atmore AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard 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 alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Atmore AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Atmore AL welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might 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 a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Atmore AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify 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 working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Atmore AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Atmore AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 ultimately will wish to work.

Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.

Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Atmore AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Find out More About Atmore Welder Vocational Schools

Find the Right Atmore Welding Program for Certification

Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Atmore AL.

 

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