How to Choose the Right Welding Trade School near Hueytown Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding technical school near Hueytown AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welder technical 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 chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are multiple alternatives available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Hueytown AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned primarily 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 most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Hueytown AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As already mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder tech school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Hueytown AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. 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). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Hueytown AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Hueytown AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied 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 higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Hueytown AL contacts to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. 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. If not, ask a local Hueytown 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 points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you can move, the welder program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Hueytown AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Verify 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 in the evenings or on weekends near Hueytown AL, make sure that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Hueytown Welding Training for Certification
Picking the best welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional welder in Hueytown AL.