How to Find the Right Welding Training Classes near Gulf Shores Alabama
Finding the ideal welder technical school near Gulf Shores AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Gulf Shores AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach 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 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Gulf Shores AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Trade Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Gulf Shores AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. 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 below are more factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder tech school you select 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 a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Gulf Shores AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction 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 considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should 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 establish relationships within the Gulf Shores AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Gulf Shores AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Gulf Shores AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Gulf Shores AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement 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.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk with a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible 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 considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure 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 work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Gulf Shores Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Gulf Shores AL.