How to Select the Best Welding Trade School near Hamilton Alabama
Finding the right welding school near Hamilton AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welding trade 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are a number of alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Hamilton AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are various institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Hamilton AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as 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
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Hamilton AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain 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 choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Hamilton AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Hamilton AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate could indicate that the students who were in 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 higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Hamilton AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Hamilton AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you select needs to be within driving distance of your Hamilton AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding 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 an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few 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 evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hamilton AL, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Hamilton Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Hamilton AL.