How to Pick the Best Welding Certification Program near Greenville Alabama
Finding the right welder vocational school near Greenville AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Greenville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying 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 potential employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Greenville AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder technical school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Trade Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Greenville AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Greenville AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help 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 refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Greenville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a high 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 quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Greenville AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. 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 Greenville AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Greenville AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often 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 subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training 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 typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Greenville AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Greenville Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Greenville AL.