How to Select the Right Welding Certification Course near Dixiana Alabama
Selecting the right welding technical school near Dixiana AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Dixiana AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely 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 2 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.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Dixiana AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Dixiana AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Dixiana AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 Dixiana AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Dixiana AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Dixiana AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Dixiana AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder 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 an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked 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. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some 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 credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Dixiana AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Dixiana Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Dixiana AL.