How to Enroll In the Best Welder Vocational School near Enterprise Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder vocational school near Enterprise AL is an essential 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 importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining 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 sensible to create 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Enterprise AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to teach 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 two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Enterprise AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Tech Schools
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Enterprise AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn 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 sure that the program you select 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). In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Enterprise AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, 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. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement 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 larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Enterprise AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Enterprise AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Enterprise AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you select must be within driving distance of your Enterprise AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Enterprise AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Enterprise Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Enterprise AL.