How to Enroll In the Right Welder Vocational School near Calera Alabama
Locating the right welding trade school near Calera AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to create 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 several options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Calera AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Calera AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills 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 based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating 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 knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Technical Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Calera AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to consider before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure 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 agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Calera AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Calera AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who enrolled 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Calera AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Calera AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Calera AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Calera AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Calera Welding Course for Certification
Picking the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. 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 reviewing. It's a must that any welding training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Calera AL.