How to Select the Right Welding Vocational School near Clanton Alabama
Selecting the right welder vocational school near Clanton AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating 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 explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Clanton AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a 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 supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares 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. If needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Clanton AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As already stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding tech school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Clanton AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Clanton AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other 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 assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Clanton AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, 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 verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Clanton AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Clanton AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Clanton AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement 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 wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire 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 feedback. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Clanton AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Clanton Welding School for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Clanton AL.