How to Enroll In the Right Welder Training Program near Hartselle Alabama
Finding the ideal welder school near Hartselle AL is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select 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 are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 wise 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 Programs
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 common welding programs available in the Hartselle AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly 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 offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Hartselle AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding trade school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Hartselle AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard types 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 make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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 obtain a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Hartselle AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Hartselle AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Hartselle AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Hartselle AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Hartselle AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hartselle AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Hartselle Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Hartselle AL.