How to Pick the Best Welding Certification Program near Irondale Alabama
Choosing the ideal welder school near Irondale AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you select the right one? Many prospective students begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important issues when reviewing welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before beginning your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are a number of options available to obtain 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined 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 usually made available by trade and technical schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that provide welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Irondale AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some 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 certain kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding vocational school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Irondale AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant 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 should be looked at. After all, the program you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before picking a welding tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding tech school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, 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). Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Irondale AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Irondale AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could indicate that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied 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 school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Irondale AL contacts to help students secure apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Irondale AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Irondale AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Irondale AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make sure that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Irondale Welding School for Certification
Picking the right welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program offers unique options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach 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 some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Irondale AL.