How to Select the Right Welder Certification Program near Dothan Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding school near Dothan AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen 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
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Dothan AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Dothan AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Tech Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Dothan AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to consider before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade 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 verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Dothan AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Dothan AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, 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 program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Dothan AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable 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, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Dothan AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Dothan AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dothan AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Dothan Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Dothan AL.