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How to Choose the Right Welder Certificate Program near Clanton Alabama

Clanton Alabama construction welder at work siteLocating the ideal welding technical school near Clanton AL is an essential 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 importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop 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.

Welder Certificate and Degree Programs

Clanton Alabama welder welding in metal shop

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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Clanton AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Clanton Alabama welder welding metal table

There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Clanton AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things 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 according to contract specifications

As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder trade school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.

What to Ask Welder Tech Schools

Clanton Alabama welder welding electrical pole

After you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Clanton AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive 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 certain 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, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Clanton 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.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined 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 considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon 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 crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who joined 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Clanton AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure 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 Clanton AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.

School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Clanton AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 ultimately will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy 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 options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find out More About Clanton Welder Trade Schools

Find the Best Clanton Welding Training for Certification

Selecting the right welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welding school that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Clanton AL.

 

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