How to Find the Best Welder Training Classes near Clay Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder vocational school near Clay AL is an essential first step to starting 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 narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 establish 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 Programs
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Clay AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned 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 2 years to complete 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 providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Clay AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Clay AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds 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 instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable 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.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Clay AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, 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 confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Clay AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar 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 Clay AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Clay AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Clay AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Clay Welding School for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are assessing 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 with. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Clay AL.