How to Find the Best Welding Training Classes near Auburn Alabama
Locating the right welding technical school near Auburn AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when evaluating welding vocational 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 vocational 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 talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple options to get 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 offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Auburn AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 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 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Auburn AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder technical school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Tech Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Auburn AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front 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 must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Auburn AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Auburn AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Auburn AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Auburn AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Auburn AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional 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 essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Auburn Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour 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, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Auburn AL.