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How to Pick the Best Welder Degree Program near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama construction welder at work siteChoosing the ideal welder trade school near Dothan AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation 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 fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs

Dothan Alabama welder working in metal shop

There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn 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 typical welding programs available in the Dothan AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Dothan Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Dothan AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific kinds of welds
  • Work according to contract specifications

As already mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements 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 a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding trade school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.

Points to Ask Welder Vocational Schools

Dothan Alabama welder welding electrical beam

Once you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Dothan AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your chosen 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 mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain 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 agency, for example 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 securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Dothan AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist 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 larger 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 instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate might signify 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 higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Dothan AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.

Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Dothan AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Dothan AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 ultimately will wish to work.

Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

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Find the Right Dothan Welding Program for Certification

Picking the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Dothan AL.

 

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