How to Choose the Right Welder Certification Course near Fultondale Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near Fultondale AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 wise to establish 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Fultondale AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive 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 requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Fultondale AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization 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 acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder trade school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Tech Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Fultondale AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Fultondale AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding diploma 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. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding 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 educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Fultondale AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider 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. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Fultondale AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Fultondale AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fultondale AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain 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 work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Fultondale Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Fultondale AL.