How to Enroll In the Best Welder Trade School near Huntsville Alabama
Finding the right welding technical school near Huntsville AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important issues when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available 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 short descriptions of the most common welding programs available in the Huntsville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Huntsville AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Perform based on contract specifications
As previously stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder trade school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Huntsville AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain 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 certain 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available in Huntsville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Huntsville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding program you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber 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 Huntsville AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over 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 comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain 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 Huntsville AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welding program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Huntsville AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might 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 offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not get much individualized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to some of the trainers and find out 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 working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Huntsville AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Huntsville Welding School for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding training program that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you choose is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Huntsville AL.