How to Pick the Right Welding Certification Course near Dothan Alabama
Choosing the right welding school near Dothan AL is an essential first step to beginning 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 notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options to get 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Dothan AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly 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 2 years to complete 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Dothan AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding trade school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Technical Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Dothan AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. 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 following are some additional factors you may want to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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 make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Dothan AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding 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 school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, 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 Dothan AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure 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 Dothan AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you select must be within commuting distance of your Dothan AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder 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 regional 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 training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to 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 working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dothan AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Dothan Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Dothan AL.