How to Choose the Right Welder Training Classes near Huntsville Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder vocational school near Huntsville AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of 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 best one? Many people begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welding trade 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to develop 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.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training
There are several options available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Huntsville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized 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 offers a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing 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 pick should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which assess the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Huntsville AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available based upon the type of work that the welder does. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welder technical school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
After you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Huntsville AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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). Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Huntsville AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined 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 reviewing help 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 refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Huntsville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welder program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate might signify that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Huntsville AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have decreased your choice of welding programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify 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 not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Huntsville AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you select must be within driving distance of your Huntsville AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in a region or state where you subsequently will wish to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the typical class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. 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 evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Huntsville AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, confirm that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Huntsville Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to 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 need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Huntsville AL.