How to Pick the Best Welder Degree Program near Harvest Alabama
Enrolling in the right welding vocational school near Harvest AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible 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.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, 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 descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Harvest AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require 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 supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you pick should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Harvest AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding vocational school you select readies you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Harvest AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed two important ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Harvest AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder degree or certificate programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Harvest AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, 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 affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Harvest AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Harvest AL welding contractor if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Harvest AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient 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 looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Harvest AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Harvest Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers unique options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Harvest AL.