How to Select the Best Welding Technical School near Bessemer Alabama
Choosing the right welding technical school near Bessemer AL is an essential first step to beginning 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 significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop 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 Classes
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Bessemer AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Bessemer AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder vocational school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Trade Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Bessemer AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Bessemer AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Bessemer AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Bessemer AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Bessemer AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you choose must be within driving distance of your Bessemer AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical 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 personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bessemer AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Bessemer Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Bessemer AL.