How to Find the Best Welder Certification Classes near Gardendale Alabama
Selecting the right welder trade school near Gardendale AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important concerns when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating 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 Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Gardendale AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Gardendale AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just 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 various kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder vocational school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welder trade and vocational schools in the Gardendale AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you pick 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 an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. 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 make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Gardendale AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other 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 Gardendale AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, 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 school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Gardendale AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain 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 Gardendale AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Gardendale AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, most 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 subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction 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. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Gardendale AL, make certain that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Gardendale Welding Program for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Gardendale AL.