How to Choose the Right Welder Certification Classes near Hamilton Alabama
Finding the ideal welding trade 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 select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when examining welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation 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 delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Hamilton AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish 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 usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Hamilton AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some 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 various kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welding Technical Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Hamilton AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed two significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable 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.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The 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 larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Hamilton AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Hamilton AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable 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 some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding school you pick must be within driving distance of your Hamilton AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hamilton AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Hamilton Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Hamilton AL.