How to Enroll In the Best Welder Trade School near Bay Minette Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding vocational school near Bay Minette AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise 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 Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered 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. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Bay Minette AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Bay Minette AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Technical Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Bay Minette AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Bay Minette AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Bay Minette AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Bay Minette AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities 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 uncertain 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 Bay Minette AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, 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, apart from relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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 want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bay Minette AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Bay Minette Welding School for Certification
Picking the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few 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, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Bay Minette AL.