How to Choose the Right Welder Vocational School near Chelsea Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near Chelsea AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation 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 narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when examining 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 sensible to establish 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 Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Chelsea AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. 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 specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep 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 Options
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Chelsea AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder trade school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Chelsea AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, 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 profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify 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 make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Chelsea AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after 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. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. 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 percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Chelsea AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out 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 similar to what you will be using 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. Otherwise, ask a local Chelsea AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Chelsea AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chelsea AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Chelsea Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Chelsea AL.