How to Pick the Right Welding Certificate Program near Brewton Alabama
Selecting the right welding trade school near Brewton AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when reviewing welder 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 trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Brewton AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Brewton AL employers not only require a degree or certificate 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. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Brewton AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify 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 agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Brewton AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Brewton 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 program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, 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 confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Brewton AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Brewton AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Brewton AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Brewton AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Brewton Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Brewton AL.