How to Select the Best Welding Technical School near Hartselle Alabama
Selecting the right welder school near Hartselle AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation 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 notably, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the best one? A number of people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several options 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Hartselle AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Hartselle AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon 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 specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding technical school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Tech 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 probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Hartselle AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed 2 important ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding technical school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Hartselle AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction 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 looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various 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 establish associations within the Hartselle AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate may signify that the students who enrolled 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 caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Hartselle AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Hartselle AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding program you select must be within driving distance of your Hartselle AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hartselle AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Hartselle Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Hartselle AL.