How to Enroll In the Best Welding Vocational School near Chickasaw Alabama
Finding the ideal welder school near Chickasaw AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees 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 common welding programs available in the Chickasaw AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Chickasaw AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree 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 kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder tech school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Technical Programs
When you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Chickasaw AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick 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). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Chickasaw AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Chickasaw AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Chickasaw AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Chickasaw AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Chickasaw AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma 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 regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chickasaw AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Chickasaw Welding Course for Certification
Picking the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Chickasaw AL.