How to Enroll In the Best Welder Degree Program near Jacksonville Alabama
Locating the ideal welder vocational school near Jacksonville AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when reviewing welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several options available to receive 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 Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Jacksonville AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by technical and trade schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, fashioned largely to develop welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working 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 diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. As needed, the welder school you select should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Jacksonville AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. 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 types of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As formerly mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds 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 location and make certain that the welding vocational school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Programs
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding vocational and trade schools in the Jacksonville AL area. That's why it's necessary to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already covered two significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for example Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, 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 ensure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation might also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered 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.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welder certificate or degree programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have partnerships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding 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 begin an instructional program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the training, 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 school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Jacksonville AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. Once you have limited your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable 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, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Jacksonville AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should remember that unless you are able to move, the welding school you select needs to be within commuting distance of your Jacksonville AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to get lost in bigger classes and not receive much individualized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are looking at. Ask 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, talk with a few of the students and get their feedback. Also, talk with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, make certain that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Jacksonville Welding Program for Certification
Picking the ideal welding school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are considering. It's a prerequisite that any welder training program that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the type of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the right 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.