How to Select the Right Welder Certificate Program near Fairfield Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder vocational school near Fairfield AL is an important first step to beginning 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 choices, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when examining welder 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 chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options available to obtain 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 available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Fairfield AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to teach 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 two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Fairfield AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different 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 make certain that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Fairfield AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that most 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 must be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Fairfield AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Fairfield AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Fairfield AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, 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. If not, ask a local Fairfield AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed 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 welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Fairfield AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 should be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairfield AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Fairfield Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend 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, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Fairfield AL.