How to Choose the Best Welding Certificate Program near Homewood Alabama
Locating the ideal welding trade school near Homewood AL is an essential first step to launching 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 importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to establish 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 Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Homewood AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Homewood AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, some 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 demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welder tech school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welder Technical Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Homewood AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered a couple of significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available in Homewood AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial 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.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy 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 high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Homewood AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your selection of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Homewood AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welder school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Homewood AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much individualized training. Find out 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 observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, chat with a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend 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, make sure that the school you select 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 responsibilities.
Find the Best Homewood Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welding training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Homewood AL.