How to Select the Right Welder Training Classes near Clanton Alabama
Locating the right welding technical school near Clanton AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 create 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 Programs
There are several alternatives available to obtain 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Clanton AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Clanton AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding vocational school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Clanton AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Clanton AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer 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 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 school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Clanton AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained 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 already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, 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 couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving 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 particularly the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement 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 subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Clanton AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Clanton Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Clanton AL.