How to Find the Best Welder Certification Course near Foley Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder vocational school near Foley AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Foley AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Foley AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some 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
- Perform according to contract specifications
As already stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Foley AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Foley AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Foley AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Foley AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. 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 contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Foley AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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 subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk to a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Foley AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Foley Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Foley AL.