How to Pick the Best Welding Training Program near Forestdale Alabama
Finding the ideal welding school near Forestdale AL is an important first step to launching 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 options, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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 brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Forestdale AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Forestdale AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Forestdale AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. 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 single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Forestdale AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Forestdale AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Forestdale AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using 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 Forestdale AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Forestdale AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may 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 provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill 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 attend part-time, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Forestdale Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Forestdale AL.