How to Enroll In the Right Welder Certification Program near Clanton Alabama
Finding the ideal welder vocational school near Clanton AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise 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 Degree and Certificate Training
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Clanton AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to develop 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Clanton AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder trade school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Clanton AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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 make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Clanton AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should 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 referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Clanton AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Clanton AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure 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 Clanton AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Clanton 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 especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Clanton AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you pick 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 responsibilities.
Find the Best Clanton Welding School for Certification
Picking the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Clanton AL.