How to Choose the Best Welder Technical School near Auburn Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding trade school near Auburn AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Auburn AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. 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 specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Auburn AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding trade school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Auburn AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of important 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 pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder trade 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 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Auburn AL for non-accredited schools. 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 welding certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Auburn 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 important that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced 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 caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Auburn AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure 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 Auburn AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Auburn AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Auburn AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Auburn Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Auburn AL.