How to Select the Best Welder Certification Program near Helena Alabama
Locating the right welding vocational school near Helena AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? A number of people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Helena AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to complete. 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 supplemental 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 furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level 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 highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder vocational school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Schools
After you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Helena AL area. That's why it's important to determine up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that most people look at 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 provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to consider before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered in Helena AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Numerous welder certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships 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 placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Helena AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an educational program and finish it. It's crucial that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may indicate that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Helena AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welder school you select must be within driving distance of your Helena AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors 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 working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Helena AL, make sure that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, confirm 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 circumstances.
Find the Best Helena Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Helena AL.