How to Select the Best Welding Certification Program near Auburn Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding school near Auburn AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 prudent to establish 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 Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Auburn AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Auburn AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder tech school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess 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 determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. 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 want to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national 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, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Auburn 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. Numerous welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations 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 finish it. It's essential that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Auburn AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Auburn AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Auburn AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly 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 regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, chat with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Auburn AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Auburn Welding Training for Certification
Picking the ideal welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training program that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date 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 credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Auburn AL.