How to Choose the Best Welder Trade School near Clanton Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding technical school near Clanton AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary 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 beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore 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 options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Clanton AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced 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 supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Clanton AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder tech school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Clanton AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. 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 has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as 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 may also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Clanton AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various 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 must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Clanton AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate 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 quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Clanton AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Clanton AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Clanton AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Clanton AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Clanton Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Clanton AL.