How to Enroll In the Best Welding Trade School near Enterprise Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder school near Enterprise AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Enterprise AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Enterprise AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities 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 means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Enterprise AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before choosing a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 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 has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Enterprise AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at 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 place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Enterprise AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Enterprise AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting 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 using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Enterprise AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, 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, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship 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.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and find out 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 schools you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Enterprise AL, make sure that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, 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 illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Best Enterprise Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Enterprise AL.