How to Pick the Best Welder Certification Classes near Helena Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder technical school near Helena AL is an important first step to starting your new career 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 significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welder technical 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 trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to create 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 Degree and Certificate Training
There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Helena AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Helena AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few 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 various kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Programs
After you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Helena AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to consider before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds 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 example Welding Technology. So make certain 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 agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Helena AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Helena AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Helena AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Helena AL welding professional if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Helena AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, speak with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Helena AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Helena Welding Course for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Helena AL.