How to Find the Right Welder Training Classes near Bay Minette Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding school near Bay Minette AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma 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. Following are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Bay Minette AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Bay Minette AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding vocational school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Bay Minette AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic 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 offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like 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 acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Bay Minette AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older 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 percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Bay Minette AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar 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 Bay Minette AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Bay Minette AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Bay Minette Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Bay Minette AL.