How to Enroll In the Right Welding Degree Program near Leeds Alabama
Selecting the right welder technical school near Leeds AL is an essential first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students begin by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within driving distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when reviewing welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other considerations 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 sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welder Certificate and Degree Programs
There are several options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are brief explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Leeds AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally made available by technical and trade schools and require about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created mainly 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 2 years to complete and are most often 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.
Some states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welder school you select 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.
Welding Certification Options
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Leeds AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree 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 offered based upon the type of work that the welder performs. 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 types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier mentioned, various states, cities or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and verify that the welding trade school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Vocational Schools
When 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 numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Leeds AL area. That's why it's important to decide in advance what qualifications your chosen school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the education that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before picking a welder trade school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So confirm that the program you select is accredited, not just the school alone. Also, 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). Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, the accreditation can also assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Leeds AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after 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 partnerships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and establish relationships within the Leeds AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also a good indicator of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Leeds AL contacts to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have limited your selection of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to look over their facilities. Make sure that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Leeds AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the importance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we should address. You should bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Leeds AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, apart from relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Additionally, if the school provides an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school needs to be in an area or state where you subsequently will want to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in larger classes and not receive much personalized instruction. Ask what the usual class size is for the welding schools you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on a few classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Similarly, speak with a few of the instructors and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks 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 fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Leeds AL, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Leeds Welding Course for Certification
Choosing the ideal welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a must that any welder training that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Leeds AL.