How to Select the Best Welding Training Classes near Chelsea Alabama
Finding the ideal welding school near Chelsea AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns 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 initiating 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Chelsea AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Chelsea AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, 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 way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Chelsea AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Chelsea AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 Chelsea AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Chelsea AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, 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. Otherwise, ask a local Chelsea AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Chelsea AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chelsea AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick 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 emergencies.
Choose the Best Chelsea Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Chelsea AL.