How to Choose the Right Welder Certification Program near Greenville Alabama
Finding the right welder school near Greenville AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when evaluating welding vocational 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 sensible to develop 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 Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are several options to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate 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 summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Greenville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Greenville AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding trade school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Technical Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Greenville AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard 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 offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Greenville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established 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 Greenville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Greenville AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection 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 instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Greenville AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered 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 needs to be within commuting distance of your Greenville AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings 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, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Greenville Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding training that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Greenville AL.