How to Choose the Best Welder Certification Course near Bay Minette Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding technical school near Bay Minette AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are a number of alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Bay Minette AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a 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 specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Bay Minette AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder trade school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Technical Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Bay Minette AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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 obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Bay Minette AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Bay Minette AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Bay Minette AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Bay Minette AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Bay Minette AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Bay Minette Welding School for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Bay Minette AL.