How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certificate Program near Foley Alabama
Finding the right welder vocational school near Foley AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 sensible to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Foley AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish 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 provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Foley 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 variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Tech Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Foley AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic 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 has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm 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). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Foley AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize 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 start an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A reduced rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Foley AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. 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 Foley AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Foley AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working 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 attend classes at night or on weekends near Foley AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Foley Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification as well. Perhaps 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 monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Foley AL.