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Questions to Ask Welding Vocational Schools

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After you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Birmingham AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. 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 some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welder tech school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard 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 offers, such as 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 recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Birmingham 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 as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Birmingham AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher 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 Birmingham AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar 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, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Birmingham AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.

School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Birmingham AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness 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 trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

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