How to Select the Best Welder Training Program near Atmore Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding technical school near Atmore AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 sensible to establish 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined 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 usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to develop 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Atmore AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring 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 just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder technical school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Atmore AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may attain 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 acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Atmore AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship 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 partnerships with local unions and other 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 referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Atmore AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Atmore AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with 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 pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder 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, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Atmore AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm 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 emergencies.
Choose the Right Atmore Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Atmore AL.