How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Course near Gardendale Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder school near Gardendale AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the right one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial 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 starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most typical welding programs offered in the Gardendale AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level 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 highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder vocational school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Trade Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Gardendale AL area. That's why it's essential to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, 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 education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to consider before picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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 receive a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Gardendale AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should 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 establish 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 welder school you select has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Gardendale AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure 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. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Gardendale AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized 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 instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Gardendale AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Gardendale Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding school that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Gardendale AL.