How to Find the Right Welder Degree Program near Gardendale Alabama
Finding the right welding school near Gardendale AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? Most people start 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 crucial concerns when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 sensible to create 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 Training Classes
There are several options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Gardendale AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to teach 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive 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 prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Gardendale AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different types 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, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder trade school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Tech Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Gardendale AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 important 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 considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as 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 agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Gardendale AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Gardendale AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied 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 higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Gardendale AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, 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. If not, ask a local Gardendale AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Gardendale AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma 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 subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not get much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Gardendale AL, confirm that the schools you are assessing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Gardendale Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welding training program will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Gardendale AL.