How to Select the Right Welding Technical School near Jasper Alabama
Enrolling in the right welder technical school near Jasper AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial considerations when evaluating welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's wise to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can earn 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 in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Jasper AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes 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 requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Alternatives
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Jasper AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As already mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those requiring licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate 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 vocational school you choose readies you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Schools
Once 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 numerous welding vocational and trade schools in the Jasper AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you might need to evaluate before picking a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain 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, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Jasper AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The schools must have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer 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 establish associations within the Jasper AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and finish it. It's important that the welding program you select has a high completion rate. A reduced rate could mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Jasper AL contacts to help students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to evaluate 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 working with in the field. If you are not sure 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 Jasper AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Although we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the welding school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Jasper AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most 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 subsequently will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not get much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding programs you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can experience how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their evaluations. Also, chat with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still employed at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Jasper AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family circumstances.
Choose the Best Jasper Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder 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 things that you will need to evaluate and compare between the schools you are considering. It's a necessity that any welder training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Jasper AL.