How to Find the Right Welding Certificate Program near Cullman Alabama
Locating the right welder trade school near Cullman AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welder technical 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 chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several alternatives 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 available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Cullman AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working 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 certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Cullman AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few 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 based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding vocational school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Cullman AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that many people look at 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 school you choose is going to provide the instruction 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 welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard 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 example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Cullman AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships 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 develop relationships within the Cullman AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy 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 higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Cullman AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Cullman AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Cullman AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most 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 wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Cullman AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Cullman Welding School for Certification
Picking the right 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 a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect 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, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Cullman AL.