How to Enroll In the Best Welding Training Classes near Center Point Alabama
Locating the ideal welder vocational school near Center Point AL is an important first step to launching 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 options, how do you pick the best one? A number of people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting 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 cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Center Point AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Center Point AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Center Point AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Center Point AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Center Point AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Center Point AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. 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 contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Center Point AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation 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. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current 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 certain that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Center Point Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Center Point AL.