How to Select the Right Welder Vocational School near East Florence Alabama
Finding the ideal welding technical school near East Florence AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation 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 fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the East Florence AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of East Florence AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to 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 already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder vocational school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the East Florence AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most 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 looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in East Florence AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships 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 utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the East Florence AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of East Florence AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained 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 already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local East Florence AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your East Florence AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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 want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right East Florence Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in East Florence AL.