How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Classes near Decatur Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding school near Decatur AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Decatur AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded 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 requirements for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Decatur AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder vocational school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Technical Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Decatur AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Decatur AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Decatur AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, 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 verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Decatur AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. 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 contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you select must be within driving distance of your Decatur AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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 want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify 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 due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Decatur Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the right welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Decatur AL.