How to Enroll In the Best Welding Certification Program near Hartselle Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding technical school near Hartselle AL is an essential 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 select the best one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when evaluating welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Hartselle AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 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 furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer 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 respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
After you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Hartselle AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So verify 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, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Hartselle AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer 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 establish associations within the Hartselle AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, 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 program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Hartselle AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. 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 Hartselle AL welding contractor if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder school you select must be within driving distance of your Hartselle AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized 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 training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Hartselle AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Hartselle Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Hartselle AL.