How to Choose the Best Welder Certification Course near Hoover Alabama
Locating the ideal welding vocational school near Hoover AL is an important first step to starting 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 best one? Most people start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial considerations when examining welding technical 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 create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several alternatives available to get 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 offered 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. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Hoover AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are multiple organizations that offer welder certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Hoover AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and confirm that the welder technical school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Technical Programs
When you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Hoover AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might want to consider before selecting a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard 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 offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Hoover AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Hoover AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Hoover AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welder schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Hoover AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welder school you select must be within commuting distance of your Hoover AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a couple of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Hoover AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Hoover Welding School for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit 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 decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Hoover AL.