How to Select the Best Welding Training Classes near Bessemer Alabama
Locating the right welder trade school near Bessemer AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when evaluating welder vocational 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 prudent to create 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Bessemer AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed 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 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Bessemer AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding tech school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Bessemer AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you decide on 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 selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Bessemer AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place 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. These schools must have partnerships 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Bessemer AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Bessemer AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify 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 using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently 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 suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Bessemer AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Bessemer AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Bessemer Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Bessemer AL.