How to Pick the Right Welding Trade School near Hoover Alabama
Finding the ideal welding trade school near Hoover AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? A number of people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Hoover AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Hoover AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder performs. 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
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder trade school you select preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welder Technical Programs
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Hoover AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many 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 considered. After all, the school you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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 ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Hoover AL for schools that are not accredited. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are provided 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. The schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Hoover AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Hoover AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welding programs to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Hoover AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should cover. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Hoover 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 particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Also, talk to a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hoover AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Hoover Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the best welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Hoover AL.