How to Select the Right Welder Certification Course near Gadsden Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding vocational school near Gadsden AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Gadsden AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple institutions that offer welder certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Gadsden AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding vocational school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Gadsden AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, 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 assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Gadsden AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place 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 Gadsden AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Gadsden AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using 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. Otherwise, ask a local Gadsden AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you choose must be within driving distance of your Gadsden AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many 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 satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gadsden AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing 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, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Gadsden Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welder school 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 examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Gadsden AL.