How to Select the Best Welding Training Program near Jasper Alabama
Locating the ideal welder vocational school near Jasper AL is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary issues when reviewing welder technical 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 selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Programs
There are a number of 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 Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Jasper AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created mainly to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete 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 supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to check for your location of potential employment. If required, the welder school you select should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Numerous Jasper AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Just some 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 various kinds of welds
- Operate in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements 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 an extremely skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welder tech school you decide on preps you for certification if needed.
What to Ask Welding Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the credential you would like to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many welding trade and technical schools in the Jasper AL area. That's why it's essential to determine up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you select is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might need to consider before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder trade school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional agency. There are two basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Jasper 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. Many welder degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. The 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 help students find 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 enroll in an instructional program and finish it. It's crucial that the welder program you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate might indicate that the students who enrolled 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 caliber of training. A high 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 Jasper AL employer relationships to assist students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using in the field. 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 Jasper AL welding contractor if they can give you some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the importance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to move, the welder program you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Jasper AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, most likely 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 subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's possible to be overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, talk to a couple of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Jasper AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Jasper Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the right welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welder school that you are assessing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world context, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Jasper AL.