How to Enroll In the Right Welding Certification Classes near Chelsea Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding vocational school near Chelsea AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen 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 Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Chelsea AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to teach 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 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 providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Chelsea AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Technical Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Chelsea AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types 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 instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Chelsea AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after 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 partnerships 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Chelsea AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Chelsea AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained 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 Chelsea AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you pick 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 welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible 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 reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Chelsea AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Chelsea Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Chelsea AL.