How to Pick the Best Welder Vocational School near Fairhope Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding school near Fairhope AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Courses
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Fairhope AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily 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 two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Fairhope AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder technical school you select readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Fairhope AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify 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 superior education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Fairhope AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various 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 help students find employment and establish relationships within the Fairhope AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Fairhope AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are not sure 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 professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Fairhope AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers 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 a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a couple of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient 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 considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Fairhope Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Fairhope AL.