How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Course near Hartselle Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding technical school near Hartselle AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Hartselle AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional 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 provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Hartselle AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate 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 welder trade school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Hartselle AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Hartselle AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some 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 assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Hartselle AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Hartselle AL contacts to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Hartselle AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Hartselle AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Hartselle AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Hartselle Welding Training for Certification
Picking the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller 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. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Hartselle AL.