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How to Find the Right Welding Technical School near Homewood Alabama

Homewood Alabama construction welder on the jobChoosing the ideal welding technical school near Homewood AL is an important first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when reviewing welder trade 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 prudent to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welder Certificate and Degree Training

Homewood Alabama welder working in metal shop

There are multiple alternatives available to obtain 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs offered in the Homewood AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available 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 supplemental skills for working welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are usually 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.

A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.

Welding Certification Choices

Homewood Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Homewood AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as 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 acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with specific types of welds
  • Operate in compliance with contract specifications

As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many 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 make sure that the welding tech school you select readies you for certification if needed.

What to Ask Welding Vocational Schools

Homewood Alabama welder welding metal electrical pole

After you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Homewood AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to consider before choosing a welding trade school.

Accreditation. It's very important that the welding trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation may also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Homewood AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welder certificate or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and various 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 help students find employment and establish associations within the Homewood AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Homewood AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, 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, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Homewood AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.

School Location. Although we already briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Homewood AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides 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 subsequently will wish to work.

Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a few of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.

Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Homewood AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll 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 should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

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Choose the Right Homewood Welding Training 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 discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Homewood AL.

 

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