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How to Find the Right Welding Degree Program near Leeds Alabama

Leeds Alabama construction welder at work siteLocating the right welding school near Leeds AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the best one? Most people begin by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial issues when examining welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a trade school to become a welder, it's wise to create a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.

Welding Certificate and Degree Training Classes

Leeds Alabama welder welding in fabrication shop

There are several alternatives available to get training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate 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 made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most typical welding programs available in the Leeds AL area.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and take about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for experienced welders.
  • Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more well-rounded education than the certificate or diploma while still providing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.

Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welding school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will have to take in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a qualified welder.

Welder Certification Alternatives

Leeds Alabama welder welding metal frame

There are various institutions that offer welding certifications, which assess the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Leeds AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a highly regarded agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to

  • Operate in compliance with specific codes
  • Work with specific metal thicknesses
  • Work with certain types of welds
  • Operate based on contract specifications

As previously stated, some cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, some also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a means to prove 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 technical school you choose prepares you for certification if needed.

Questions to Ask Welding Technical Schools

Leeds Alabama welder welding electrical beam

Once you have decided on the credential you want to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and technical schools in the Leeds AL area. That's why it's necessary to decide in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously covered 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. 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 instruction that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are more factors you may want to consider before selecting a welding vocational school.

Accreditation. It's essential that the welding trade school you select is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may attain Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation might also help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable in Leeds AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.

Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or diploma programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are considering assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish associations within the Leeds AL welding community.

Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A reduced rate might indicate that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Leeds AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment after graduation.

Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder schools to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with 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 Leeds AL welding contractor if they can give you some pointers.

School Location. Although we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a few additional points that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you are able to relocate, the welding program you choose needs to be within driving distance of your Leeds AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, more than 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 want to work.

Smaller Classes. One-on-one training is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized instruction. Ask what the average class size is for the welder programs you are reviewing. Ask if you can attend a few classes so that you can experience how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with some of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.

Convenient Class Schedules. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Check to see that the class schedules for the schools you are considering are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Leeds AL, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Leeds Welding Training

Find the Right Leeds Welding School for Certification

Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the programs you are reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom education should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be current and in-line with industry standards. Training programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Each training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour 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 final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Leeds AL.

 

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