How to Pick the Right Welding Technical School near Gulf Shores Alabama
Finding the right welding vocational school near Gulf Shores AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating 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 delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Gulf Shores AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned 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 two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Gulf Shores AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding trade school you choose preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Tech Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin 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 decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify 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 organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Gulf Shores AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations 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 referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Gulf Shores AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Gulf Shores AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed 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 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 Gulf Shores AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Gulf Shores AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure 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 Gulf Shores AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Gulf Shores Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study 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 decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Gulf Shores AL.