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How to Pick the Best Welding Trade School near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama construction welder at work siteLocating the right welding technical school near Clay AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? A number of people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Clay Alabama welder working in fabrication shop

There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Clay AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 readies students to enter the workforce.

Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Clay Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Clay AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specified metal thicknesses
  • Work with various types of welds
  • Operate based on contract specifications

As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also 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, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding technical school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.

Subjects to Ask Welding Technical Schools

Clay Alabama electrician welding electrical beam

After you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Clay AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welder trade school.

Accreditation. It's very important that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Clay 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 as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships 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 establish associations within the Clay AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. 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 school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Clay AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are uncertain 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 Clay AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.

School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Clay AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will want to work.

Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Clay AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.

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Choose the Best Clay Welding Course for Certification

Choosing the ideal welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length 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. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Clay AL.

 

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