How to Find the Right Welding Trade School near Hamilton Alabama
Finding the right welding school near Hamilton AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive 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 brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Hamilton AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Hamilton AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welder trade school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Hamilton AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must 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 below are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Hamilton AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined 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. The schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Hamilton 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 crucial that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Hamilton AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Hamilton AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you select must be within driving distance of your Hamilton AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely 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 want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hamilton AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose 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 circumstances.
Find the Right Hamilton Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are considering includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Hamilton AL.