How to Pick the Best Welding Technical School near Enterprise Alabama
Selecting the right welder vocational school near Enterprise AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose 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 start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when examining welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade 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 cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Enterprise AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Enterprise AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding tech school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Enterprise AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding 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 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make sure 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 organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Enterprise AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Enterprise AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied 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 program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Enterprise AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Enterprise AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding school you select needs to be within driving distance of your Enterprise AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed 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 attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Enterprise AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Enterprise Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Enterprise AL.