How to Pick the Best Welder Training Program near Huntsville Alabama
Locating the ideal welding technical school near Huntsville 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 narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? A number of prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Courses
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational 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 along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Huntsville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working 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 extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Huntsville AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, some also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder tech school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Topics to Ask Welder Trade Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Huntsville AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, 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 may also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Huntsville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Huntsville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an educational program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Huntsville AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. 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. Although we previously briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to address. You should bear in mind that unless you can move, the welding school you select must be within driving distance of your Huntsville AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma 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 should be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Personalized training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend some classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk with a few of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Huntsville Welding School for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a must that any welder school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right 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.