How to Choose the Best Welding Certification Program near Fairhope Alabama
Selecting the right welding school near Fairhope AL is an important first step to beginning 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 options, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when evaluating welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several options to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Fairhope AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach 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 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Fairhope AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like 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 skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder tech school you select prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Tech Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Fairhope AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important 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 need to be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Fairhope AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize 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 portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Fairhope AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment 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 already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Fairhope AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you choose must be within driving distance of your Fairhope AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case 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 should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairhope AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify 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, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Fairhope Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fairhope AL.