How to Enroll In the Right Welding Certification Course near Irondale Alabama
Finding the ideal welding technical school near Irondale AL is an important first step to starting 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 fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary issues when evaluating welding technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Irondale AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two 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 providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Irondale AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type 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 specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding trade school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
As soon as you have chosen the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Irondale AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously covered two significant ones that many 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 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 want to consider before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional 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 an individual program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Irondale AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place 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 develop associations within the Irondale AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an educational program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate may indicate 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Irondale AL contacts to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Irondale AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should remember that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Irondale AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder degree 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 local community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be lost in bigger classes and not receive much one-on-one training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Irondale AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the school you select 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 circumstances.
Find the Best Irondale Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the best welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Irondale AL.