How to Pick the Best Welding Degree Program near Jacksonville Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder school near Jacksonville AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their residences. When they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are important concerns when examining welding trade 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 trade school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Training Courses
There are multiple alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can earn 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Jacksonville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by trade and technical schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various institutions that provide welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Jacksonville AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. 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 specific kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various 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 welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
Questions to Ask Welder Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and vocational schools in the Jacksonville AL area. That's why it's essential to decide up front what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you select is going to furnish the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to consider before selecting a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized 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 might also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Jacksonville AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma 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 looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various 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 develop relationships within the Jacksonville AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an educational program and finish it. It's essential that the welding program you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Jacksonville AL contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have narrowed down your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm 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 on the job. If you are unsure 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 Jacksonville 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 couple of 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 select must be within driving distance of your Jacksonville AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving 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. Furthermore, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement 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 subsequently will want to work.
Small Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can see how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Jacksonville Welding School for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder school that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional welder in Jacksonville AL.