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How to Pick the Right Welder Trade School near Chelsea Alabama

Chelsea Alabama construction welder at work siteFinding the ideal welding technical school near Chelsea AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Certificate and Degree Programs

Chelsea Alabama welder working in metal shop

There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Chelsea AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Options

Chelsea Alabama welder welding metal table

There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Chelsea AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with certain metal thicknesses
  • Work with various types of welds
  • Operate according to contract specifications

As earlier stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding technical school you choose preps you for certification if needed.

Points to Ask Welder Technical Programs

Chelsea Alabama welder welding electrical beam

Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Chelsea AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder tech school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like 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 might also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Chelsea AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Chelsea AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Chelsea AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure 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 previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Chelsea AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.

Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Chelsea AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.

Find out More About Chelsea Welding Trade Schools

Find the Right Chelsea Welding Course for Certification

Picking the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Chelsea AL.

 

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