How to Choose the Right Welder Vocational School near Hartselle Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder school near Hartselle AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational 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 Training Programs
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered 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 short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Hartselle AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often 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.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Hartselle AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and confirm that the welding technical school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Tech Programs
After you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate 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 establish in advance 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 tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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 make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Hartselle AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. 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 percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality 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 secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are not sure 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 professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you are able to 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 may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hartselle AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Hartselle Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need 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 way to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Hartselle AL.