How to Enroll In the Best Welder Technical School near Chickasaw Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder school near Chickasaw AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent 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 Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Chickasaw AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually 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 readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Chickasaw AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder vocational school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Tech Programs
After you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder vocational and trade schools in the Chickasaw AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that many 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 should be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder tech school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Chickasaw AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Chickasaw AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy 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 high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Chickasaw AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Chickasaw AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Chickasaw AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides 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. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Chickasaw AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Chickasaw Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Chickasaw AL.