How to Choose the Right Welder Training Classes near Helena Alabama
Selecting the right welding trade school near Helena AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Most people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding 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 available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Helena AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you select should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Helena AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder technical school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Questions to Ask Welding Tech Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Helena AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard 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 confirm that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Helena AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships 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 utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Helena AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, 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 verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Helena AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already 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 some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, 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 particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, 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 needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Helena AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Helena Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the right welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Helena AL.