How to Select the Right Welding Trade School near Calera Alabama
Choosing the right welder trade school near Calera AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are multiple options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma 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. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Calera AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created 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 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate 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 program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder tech school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Calera AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive 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 select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Calera AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations 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 placements. These programs can help students find 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 enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate might mean 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Calera AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about 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 program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Calera AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs 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, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Calera Welding Program for Certification
Picking the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Calera AL.