How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certificate Program near Decatur Alabama
Selecting the right welder vocational school near Decatur AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are multiple options 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 offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Decatur AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Decatur AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder technical school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Decatur AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. 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 has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Decatur AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Decatur AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who joined 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Decatur AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm 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 in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Decatur AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you choose must be within driving distance of your Decatur AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a few of the trainers and find out 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 employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Decatur Welding School for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder training program 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 among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Decatur AL.