How to Select the Best Welding Training Classes near Fort Payne Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding technical school near Fort Payne AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to create 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of options to obtain 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Fort Payne AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to develop 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Fort Payne AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Fort Payne AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Fort Payne AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Fort Payne AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, 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 school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Fort Payne AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Fort Payne AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Fort Payne AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers 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 an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fort Payne AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Fort Payne Welding School for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Fort Payne AL.