How to Find the Right Welding Certificate Program near Enterprise Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder trade school near Enterprise AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Enterprise AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced 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 certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Enterprise AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like 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
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding vocational school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Enterprise AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish 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 welding trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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 make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Enterprise AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Enterprise AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Enterprise AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify 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 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 Enterprise AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Enterprise AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Enterprise AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, verify 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 work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Enterprise Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Enterprise AL.