How to Find the Best Welder Certification Program near Fairhope Alabama
Selecting the right welding technical school near Fairhope AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when reviewing welding technical 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options 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 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 short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Fairhope AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Fairhope AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many 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, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder trade school you select readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Fairhope AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you decide on 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 selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Fairhope AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Fairhope AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Fairhope AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using 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 Fairhope AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Fairhope AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true 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 regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm 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 Fairhope AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Fairhope Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Fairhope AL.