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Questions to Ask Welder Trade Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder trade and technical schools in the Huntsville 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 consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So below are more factors you may want to evaluate before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding technical school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national 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 has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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 get an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Huntsville AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must 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 utilize for placements. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Huntsville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who joined 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 school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Huntsville AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain 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 Huntsville AL welding professional if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welding school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Huntsville AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely 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 ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with some of the trainers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Huntsville AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.