How to Pick the Best Welder Certification Program near Guntersville Alabama
Selecting the right welding vocational school near Guntersville AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected 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 Courses
There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered 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 brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Guntersville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely 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 finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable 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. Numerous Guntersville AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the kind 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 certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Guntersville AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the instruction 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 welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Guntersville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Guntersville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber 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 Guntersville AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Guntersville AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Guntersville AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask 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, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Guntersville AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Guntersville Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welding school that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Guntersville AL.