How to Enroll In the Best Welding Technical School near Fairhope Alabama
Finding the ideal welder vocational 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 choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues 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 starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Fairhope AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous 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). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding vocational school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess 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 establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two important ones that many 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 should be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Fairhope AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help 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. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Fairhope AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, 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 school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Fairhope AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Fairhope AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you choose needs to be within driving 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 diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairhope AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you decide on 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 circumstances.
Find the Best Fairhope Welding School for Certification
Choosing the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers 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 select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Fairhope AL.