How to Find the Best Welding Degree Program near Fairhope Alabama
Locating the right welder vocational school near Fairhope AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating 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 delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Fairhope AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete 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 readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Fairhope AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number 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, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Programs
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Fairhope AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged 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 may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Fairhope AL for non-accredited schools. 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 Placement Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships 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 help students find employment and develop relationships within the Fairhope AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied 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 verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Fairhope AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over 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 comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Fairhope AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Fairhope AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers 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 desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairhope AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Fairhope Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things 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 considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Fairhope AL.