How to Select the Right Welding Certificate Program near Fairfield Alabama
Locating the ideal welding vocational school near Fairfield AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered 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 offered in the Fairfield AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Fairfield AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds 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, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding vocational school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and technical schools in the Fairfield AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make sure 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Fairfield AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Fairfield AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, 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 verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Fairfield AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable 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, 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 significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Fairfield AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Check to see 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, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Fairfield Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each 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 in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out 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 choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fairfield AL.