How to Enroll In the Right Welder Training Program near Homewood Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding school near Homewood AL is an essential first step to beginning 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 notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you pick the right one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when reviewing welding 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 prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training
There are several alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs offered in the Homewood AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Homewood AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different 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, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder tech school you select prepares you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Tech Schools
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Homewood AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered a couple of important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. 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 example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Homewood AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Homewood AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might signify 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 a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Homewood AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm 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 using on the job. If you are not sure 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 Homewood AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding program you select must be within driving distance of your Homewood AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Homewood AL, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Homewood Welding Course for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Homewood AL.