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How to Choose the Best Welding Certification Classes near East Florence Alabama

East Florence Alabama construction welder at work siteLocating the ideal welder vocational school near East Florence AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when evaluating welding technical 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 wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Degree and Certificate Programs

East Florence Alabama welder welding in fabrication shop

There are multiple options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the East Florence AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed largely 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welding Certification Options

East Florence Alabama welder welding metal table

There are multiple institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous East Florence AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to

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

As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.

Questions to Ask Welder Technical Schools

East Florence Alabama electrician welding electrical beam

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 many welder trade and technical schools in the East Florence AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder trade school.

Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. 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 verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in East Florence AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.

Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other 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 placements. 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 educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of East Florence AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with 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 East Florence AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.

School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you select must be within driving distance of your East Florence AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate 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 ultimately will desire to work.

Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.

Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm 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 due to illness, work or family circumstances.

Learn More About East Florence Welder Trade Schools

Choose the Best East Florence Welding Training for Certification

Choosing the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in East Florence AL.

 

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