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How to Choose the Right Welding Trade School near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama construction welder on the jobLocating the ideal welding technical school near Clay AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Degree and Certificate Programs

Clay Alabama welder working in fabrication shop

There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Clay AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach 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 extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.

Welder Certification Alternatives

Clay Alabama welder welding metal table

There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Clay AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with certain metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific kinds of welds
  • Perform based on contract specifications

As formerly stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.

Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Schools

Clay Alabama electrician welding metal electrical beam

Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Clay AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before picking a welding trade school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Clay AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The 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 utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Clay AL welding community.

Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Clay AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Clay AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.

School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you select must be within driving distance of your Clay AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire 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 opinions. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Clay AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Clay Welder Schools

Find the Best Clay Welding Course for Certification

Picking the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to 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 duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification also. Probably The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Clay AL.

 

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