How to Select the Best Welder Training Program near Hueytown Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder trade school near Hueytown AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when evaluating welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Hueytown AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete 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 prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are a number of organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Hueytown AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind 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 certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those calling for licensing, some also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder technical school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Hueytown AL area. That's why it's important to establish up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm 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 organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Hueytown 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 as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many 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 placement program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop associations within the Hueytown AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Hueytown AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 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 modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. 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 Hueytown AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Hueytown AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Hueytown AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family circumstances.
Find the Right Hueytown Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Hueytown AL.