How to Pick the Best Welding Certificate Program near Bessemer Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder trade school near Bessemer AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 trade or vocational school. You can obtain 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Bessemer AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade 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 two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Bessemer AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Bessemer AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Bessemer 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 as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Bessemer AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, 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 affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Bessemer AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, 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, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Bessemer AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Bessemer AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bessemer AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Bessemer Welding School for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are assessing 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 with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Bessemer AL.