How to Choose the Best Welder Certification Course near Harvest Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder vocational school near Harvest AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 selected 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 Training
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Harvest AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to develop 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Harvest 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 wide range of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder technical school you choose prepares you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding trade and technical schools in the Harvest AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to consider before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Harvest 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 also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Harvest AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Harvest AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Harvest AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you choose must be within commuting distance of your Harvest AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, chat with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Harvest AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select 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 emergencies.
Find the Right Harvest Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a lot 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 needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every program provides different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Harvest AL.