How to Pick the Best Welder Certification Course near Jacksonville Alabama
Choosing the ideal welding vocational school near Jacksonville AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. When they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary considerations when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes
There are a number of alternatives available to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive 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 offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs offered in the Jacksonville AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to find out for your location of potential employment. As required, the welding school you select should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Options
There are various organizations that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Jacksonville AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based upon the type 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 certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As formerly stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So just as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder technical school you choose readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Trade Schools
When you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Jacksonville AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 important ones that many people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to furnish the education that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not offered 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.
Apprenticeship and Job Placement Programs. Many welder degree or diploma programs are provided combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship 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 relationships with local unions and various 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 assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Jacksonville AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you choose has a high completion rate. A low rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also 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 narrowed down your choice of welder programs to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, consult with 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. Even though we already briefly covered the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding program you select must be within commuting distance of your Jacksonville AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers a job placement or apprenticeship program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you ultimately will want to work.
Small Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be lost in bigger classes and not get much personalized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, speak with some of the students and get their feedback. Also, chat with a couple of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Jacksonville Welding Course for Certification
Picking the best welding training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a must that any welding training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Jacksonville AL.