How to Pick the Right Welding Degree Program near Dothan Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding technical school near Dothan AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are a number of alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Dothan AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Dothan 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 offered based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder vocational school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
After you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Dothan AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. 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 want to consider before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example 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 help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Dothan AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships 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 help students find employment and develop associations within the Dothan AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Dothan AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect 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 in the field. If you are uncertain 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 a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Dothan AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify 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 work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Dothan Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Dothan AL.