How to Select the Right Welder Trade School near Greenville Alabama
Choosing the right welding 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 choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important considerations when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Greenville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete 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 furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Greenville AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some 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 specific types of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder tech school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Greenville AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain 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 agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Greenville AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding 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 after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Greenville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who were in 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 caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Greenville AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment 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 unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask 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. Although we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Greenville AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. 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.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Greenville AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Greenville Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program 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 reviewing. It's a must that any welder training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Greenville AL.