How to Enroll In the Right Welder Degree Program near Helena Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding technical school near Helena AL is an essential first step to starting your new career 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 fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary considerations when reviewing welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive 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 offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Helena AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Helena AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welding trade school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Tech Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Helena AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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 make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Helena AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Helena AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Helena AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Helena AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you choose must be within driving distance of your Helena AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, 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 should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Helena AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Helena Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Each training program offers unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Helena AL.