How to Choose the Right Welder Certification Program near Forestdale Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder trade school near Forestdale AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when examining welder trade 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 trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training
There are a number of alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Forestdale AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced 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 well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Forestdale AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding trade school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Tech Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Forestdale AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, 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 furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 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 sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Forestdale AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Forestdale AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean 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 higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Forestdale AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain 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 Forestdale AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Forestdale AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Forestdale AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Forestdale Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will probably 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 evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration 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. Each program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Forestdale AL.