How to Enroll In the Right Welder Degree Program near Guntersville Alabama
Locating the ideal welding vocational school near Guntersville AL is an essential first step to launching 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 importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when reviewing welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create 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
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain 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 offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Guntersville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Guntersville AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Trade Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Guntersville AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example 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 acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Guntersville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Guntersville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator 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 Guntersville AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have decreased your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Guntersville AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welding program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Guntersville AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may 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, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Guntersville AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Guntersville Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Guntersville AL.