How to Select the Best Welding Training Classes near Gardendale Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding technical school near Gardendale AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Programs
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Gardendale AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes 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 prerequisites for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Gardendale AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some 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 certain types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder vocational school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Gardendale AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered two significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional 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, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available 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 also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations 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.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Gardendale AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar 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 professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Gardendale AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate 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 needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gardendale AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Gardendale Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers 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 training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Gardendale AL.