How to Select the Best Welder Certification Classes near Jacksonville Alabama
Selecting the right welder technical school near Jacksonville AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when reviewing 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 establish 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.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are multiple options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical 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 courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs available in the Jacksonville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created primarily 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 provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to check for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to furnishing the appropriate training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Jacksonville AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered dependent on the kind of work that the welder performs. A few of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As earlier stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you decide on prepares you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Schools
When you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are numerous welder trade and vocational schools in the Jacksonville AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you may want to consider before choosing a welding vocational school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two basic 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 select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, the accreditation might also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable in Jacksonville 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.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder degree or diploma programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. Older 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 associations within the Jacksonville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who were 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 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 secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your choice of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure 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 using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Jacksonville AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the welding program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Jacksonville AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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. Individualized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with a few of the teachers 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. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, verify that the schools you are assessing provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes should you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Jacksonville Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the best welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welding training program that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides unique options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Jacksonville AL.