How to Select the Best Welding Trade School near Lanett Alabama
Finding the right welding vocational school near Lanett AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial concerns when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 prudent to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are a number of options available to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief descriptions of the most prevalent welding programs offered in the Lanett AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in nature, created largely to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore don't forget to find out for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welding school you choose should ready you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to supplying the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Options
There are multiple institutions that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Lanett AL employers not only expect a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with certain kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As previously mentioned, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding tech school you decide on readies you for certification as needed.
What to Ask Welder Tech Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Lanett AL area. That's why it's essential to establish up front what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have already discussed two important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you choose is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welder technical school you choose is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two standard types of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation may also assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Lanett AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding degree or diploma programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These 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 rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Lanett 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 essential that the welder school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate might mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the instruction, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Lanett AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Equipment and Facilities. After you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using in the field. If you are unsure 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 Lanett AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly talked about the significance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should address. You should remember that unless you have the ability to move, the welding school you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Lanett AL home. If you do opt to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers 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 a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on a couple of 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. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Lanett AL, verify that the schools you are assessing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Choose the Right Lanett Welding Program for Certification
Choosing the right welding school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each program provides different options for certification also. Probably The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Lanett AL.