How to Select the Right Welding Certificate Program near Decatur Alabama
Finding the ideal welder technical school near Decatur AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Decatur AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely 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 two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Decatur AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Decatur AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously 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 must be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as 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 ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Decatur AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships 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 rely upon for referrals. 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 enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Decatur AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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 professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can 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, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Decatur Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Decatur AL.