How to Select the Best Welding Training Classes near Fairfield Alabama
Selecting the right welder trade school near Fairfield AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 prudent 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 Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Fairfield AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Fairfield AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder technical school you select preps you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Tech Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Fairfield AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Fairfield AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and various 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Fairfield 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 finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. 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 additionally that it has the network of Fairfield AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice 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 instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Fairfield AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Fairfield AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some 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, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairfield AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Best Fairfield Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk 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 school you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fairfield AL.