How to Enroll In the Best Welding Trade School near Greenville Alabama
Finding the ideal welder vocational school near Greenville AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of 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 offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Greenville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Greenville AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. 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 certain types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding technical school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Tech Schools
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Greenville AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Greenville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering 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 place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Greenville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who joined 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 high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Greenville AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Greenville AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Greenville AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk to a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Greenville AL, make certain 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 decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Greenville Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the best 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 a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Greenville AL.