How to Pick the Best Welding Trade School near Fultondale Alabama
Finding the ideal welding vocational school near Fultondale AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 sensible to create 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Fultondale AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Fultondale AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As already stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder technical school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Fultondale AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic 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 instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Fultondale AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Fultondale AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Fultondale AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Fultondale AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you select must be within commuting distance of your Fultondale AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. 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 just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Make sure 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 Fultondale AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Fultondale Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Fultondale AL.