How to Enroll In the Best Welder Degree Program near Irondale Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welding technical school near Irondale AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the best one? Many people begin by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when evaluating welding vocational 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief explanations of the most typical welding programs available in the Irondale AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to teach 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so make sure to check for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Irondale AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder performs. Some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, various cities, states 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 means to prove to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding technical school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are many welding trade and technical 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 already discussed a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So verify that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Irondale AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools should have partnerships 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 rely upon for placements. These programs can help students find 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 academic program and finish it. It's important that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Irondale AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with in the field. If you are unsure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Irondale AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the significance of location, there are a few additional points that we should address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you pick must be within driving distance of your Irondale AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welder diploma programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Ask if you can sit in on some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, chat with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Irondale AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Irondale Welding Program for Certification
Selecting the best welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different possibilities for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Irondale AL.