How to Select the Best Welder Degree Program near Demopolis Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder school near Demopolis AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Demopolis AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Demopolis AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder tech school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Demopolis AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Demopolis AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Demopolis AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement 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 program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Demopolis AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate 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 comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Demopolis AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Demopolis AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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 ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak 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 current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Demopolis AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Demopolis Welding Course for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Demopolis AL.