How to Select the Right Welding Certification Course near Fultondale Alabama
Selecting the right welder technical school near Fultondale AL is an essential first step to starting 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 significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into 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 alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Fultondale AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. 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 2 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 readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Fultondale AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. A few 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 specific kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As already stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding tech school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Trade Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Fultondale AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure 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 organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Fultondale AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Fultondale AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy 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 higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Fultondale AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Fultondale AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you can move, the welding school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Fultondale AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree 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 local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fultondale AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Fultondale Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Fultondale AL.