How to Select the Best Welder Certificate Program near Calera Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding technical school near Calera AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 establish a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Programs
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Calera AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Calera AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder tech school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Calera AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard 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, for instance 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 recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Calera AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various 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 percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who joined 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 higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Calera AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. 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. If not, ask a local Calera AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Calera AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Calera AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Calera Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Calera AL.