How to Find the Right Welding Vocational School near Chelsea Alabama
Locating the right welding technical school near Chelsea AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting 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 considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Chelsea AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Chelsea AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate 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 type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Chelsea AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Chelsea AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon 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 other 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 help students find employment and establish relationships within the Chelsea AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, 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 field, but also that it has the network of Chelsea AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain 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 discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Chelsea AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides 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 an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Chelsea AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Chelsea Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training program that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Chelsea AL.