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How to Enroll In the Right Welding Trade School near Jacksonville Alabama

Jacksonville Alabama construction welder at work siteEnrolling in the right welder technical school near Jacksonville AL is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Degree and Certificate Programs

Jacksonville Alabama welder working in fabrication shop

There are multiple options available to get training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Jacksonville AL area.

  • Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned 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 complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to providing the suitable training to become a professional welder.

Welder Certification Alternatives

Jacksonville Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are a number of institutions that offer welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Numerous Jacksonville AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based upon the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Work in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with certain metal thicknesses
  • Work with various types of welds
  • Operate in compliance with contract specifications

As earlier stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number also require certification for various kinds 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, check the requirements for your location and make sure that the welder technical school you choose readies you for certification if needed.

Points to Ask Welder Technical Schools

Jacksonville Alabama electrician welding electrical pole

Once you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder trade and vocational schools in the Jacksonville AL area. That's why it's essential to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two 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 offers, such as Welding Technology. So confirm 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 agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Jacksonville 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. Many welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have associations with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish associations within the Jacksonville AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welder school you pick has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate might mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the instructors, 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 school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Jacksonville AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welder programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Make sure that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 contractor if they can give you a few pointers.

School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding program you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Jacksonville AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will wish to work.

Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can observe how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.

Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new trade while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.

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Choose the Right Jacksonville Welding Program for Certification

Choosing the ideal welder school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers unique possibilities 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 instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Jacksonville AL.

 

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