How to Find the Best Welding Vocational School near Foley Alabama
Finding the ideal welding vocational school near Foley AL is an important first step to starting 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 importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are multiple alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Foley AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Foley AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate 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 welding trade school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Foley AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain 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 organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Foley AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate 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 reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have partnerships with local unions and various 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Foley AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Foley AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Foley AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Foley AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma 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 a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Foley AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Foley Welding School for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Foley AL.