How to Enroll In the Right Welder Training Program near Decatur Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding technical school near Decatur AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish 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 Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Decatur AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to develop 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Decatur AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different 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 already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Decatur AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard 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 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 acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently 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. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Decatur AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might signify 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 an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Decatur AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure 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 Decatur AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Decatur AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those options. 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 policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Decatur Welding Program for Certification
Picking the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welding school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Decatur AL.