How to Enroll In the Best Welder Trade School near Calera Alabama
Locating the right welding trade school near Calera AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Calera AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Calera AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind 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 specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding tech school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Calera AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify 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 agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Calera AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer 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 develop relationships within the Calera AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Calera AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Calera AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Calera AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Calera AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Calera Welding School for Certification
Picking the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Calera AL.