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How to Select the Right Welder Trade School near Clay Alabama

Clay Alabama construction welder on the jobLocating the right welder school near Clay AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Degree and Certificate Training

Clay Alabama welder welding in fabrication shop

There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, 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 prevalent welding programs available in the Clay AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed 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 well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.

A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding 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.

Welding Certification Alternatives

Clay Alabama welder welding metal table

There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Clay AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with certain kinds of welds
  • Perform according to contract specifications

As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.

Topics to Ask Welder Vocational Programs

Clay Alabama electrician welding metal electrical beam

As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, 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 decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before choosing a welder technical school.

Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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 make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Clay AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.

Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. 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 enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Clay AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.

Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. 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 Clay AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.

School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Clay AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.

Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Clay AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Clay Welder Trade Schools

Choose the Right Clay Welding Training for Certification

Selecting the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal 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.

 

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