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How to Choose the Right Welder Training Classes near Bay Minette Alabama

Bay Minette Alabama construction welder on the jobLocating the right welding trade school near Bay Minette AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Degree and Certificate Training

Bay Minette Alabama welder working in metal shop

There are multiple alternatives available to obtain 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 offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Bay Minette AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Bay Minette Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Bay Minette AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with certain kinds of welds
  • Work in compliance with contract specifications

As formerly mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder trade school you choose preps you for certification as needed.

Questions to Ask Welding Trade Programs

Bay Minette Alabama electrician welding electrical beam

When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Bay Minette AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Bay Minette AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding 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 begin an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Bay Minette AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting 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. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Bay Minette AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Bay Minette AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there might 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 offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask 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, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure 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 Bay Minette AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find out More About Bay Minette Welder Training Programs

Choose the Best Bay Minette Welding Training for Certification

Selecting the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Bay Minette AL.

 

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