How to Enroll In the Right Welder Certificate Program near Chickasaw Alabama
Locating the ideal welder vocational school near Chickasaw AL is an essential first step to beginning 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 significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most 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 the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welding vocational 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 establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Chickasaw AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, 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 complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Chickasaw AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding tech school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Chickasaw AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most 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 must be looked at. After all, the program you pick 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 need to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical 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 an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm 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, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Chickasaw AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations 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 important that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, 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 school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Chickasaw AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure 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 uncertain what to look for, and are currently 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 suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Chickasaw AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chickasaw AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Chickasaw Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have addressed 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 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 provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Chickasaw AL.