How to Enroll In the Right Welding Technical School near Gardendale Alabama
Finding the ideal welding school near Gardendale AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Most people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when examining 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to create 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
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Gardendale AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Gardendale AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various 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 local area and make sure that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Gardendale AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Gardendale AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job 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 relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Gardendale AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who joined 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 quality 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 assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting 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 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. Otherwise, ask a local Gardendale AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Gardendale AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient 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 assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select 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 Right Gardendale Welding School for Certification
Picking the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor some 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 proper training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Gardendale AL.