How to Pick the Right Welder Trade School near Boaz Alabama
Choosing the right welder school near Boaz AL is an essential first step to starting 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 importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welding vocational 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 establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into 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 options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Boaz AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Boaz AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder technical school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Trade Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Boaz AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Boaz AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Boaz AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Boaz AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Boaz AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Boaz AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely 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 want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are considering. 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, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Boaz AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. 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 if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Boaz Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Boaz AL.