How to Choose the Right Welder Degree Program near Guntersville Alabama
Selecting the right welding school near Guntersville AL is an important first step to launching your new career 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 significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop 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 Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Guntersville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many 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). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As earlier stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Guntersville AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder technical school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable in Guntersville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined 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. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older 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 Guntersville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm 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 employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welder programs to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with 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. If not, ask a local Guntersville AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Guntersville AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving 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 provides a job placement or apprenticeship 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some 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 evaluations. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Guntersville AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Guntersville Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on a few 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 proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Guntersville AL.