How to Select the Right Welding Vocational School near Dixiana Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder technical school near Dixiana AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary 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 initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Dixiana AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Dixiana AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few 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 specific types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding vocational school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Dixiana AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Dixiana AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Dixiana AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Dixiana AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. 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. If not, ask a local Dixiana AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Dixiana AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation 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 provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few 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 hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dixiana AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Dixiana Welding School for Certification
Picking the right welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Dixiana AL.