How to Choose the Right Welder Vocational School near Foley Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder trade school near Foley AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns 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 beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Foley AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers 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, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Foley AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things 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
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding tech school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Technical Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Foley AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before choosing a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain 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). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Foley 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.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Foley AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Foley AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar 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. Otherwise, ask a local Foley AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Foley 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 degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Foley AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, 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 work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Foley Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Foley AL.