How to Select the Best Welding Training Program near Gulf Shores Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding technical school near Gulf Shores AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when reviewing welding 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 establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options to get training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Gulf Shores AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about one 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 complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Gulf Shores AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Tech Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Gulf Shores AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to consider before choosing a welding technical 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 standard kinds 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, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Gulf Shores AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various 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 develop relationships within the Gulf Shores AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Gulf Shores AL employer relationships to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Gulf Shores AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder school you pick must be within driving distance of your Gulf Shores AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a couple of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible 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 schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gulf Shores AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Gulf Shores Welding School for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed 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 necessity that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Gulf Shores AL.