How to Enroll In the Best Welding Technical School near Center Point Alabama
Selecting the right welder trade school near Center Point AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create 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 Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Center Point AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop 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 two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Center Point AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder trade school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Center Point AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to consider before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Center Point AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships 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 assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Center Point AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate 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 an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Center Point AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Center Point AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you choose must be within driving distance of your Center Point AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Center Point AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Center Point Welding Training for Certification
Picking the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Center Point AL.