How to Choose the Right Welding Certificate Program near Leeds Alabama
Selecting the ideal welding vocational school near Leeds AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to select from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your options, how do you select the best one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. When they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when reviewing welding 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 establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options to receive 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 programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Below are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Leeds AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, fashioned mainly to teach welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or specialized skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology offers a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still furnishing the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As needed, the welder school you pick should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to supplying the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several institutions that provide welding certifications, which evaluate the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Leeds AL employers not only require a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered dependent on the type of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specific metal thicknesses
- Work with certain types of welds
- Operate according to contract specifications
As already stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, many additionally require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welder technical school you choose preps you for certification if needed.
Topics to Ask Welding Technical Schools
As soon as you have chosen the credential you want to earn, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade 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 already covered two significant ones that most people consider first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the program you decide on is going to provide the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may need to evaluate before choosing a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder tech school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are 2 basic kinds of accreditation. The school may earn 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 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). Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, the accreditation can also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Leeds AL for schools that are not accredited. 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 certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship upon 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 associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for placements. 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 portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's essential that the welder school you choose has a higher completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were dissatisfied with the instruction, the teachers, 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 affirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Leeds AL employer relationships to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to look over their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. Specifically, 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 currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Leeds AL welding contractor if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to address. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you choose needs to be within commuting distance of your Leeds AL home. If you do decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides moving expenses there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers 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 a region or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Small Classes. Individualized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are considering. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, speak with several of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, talk with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they have earned.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still employed at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Leeds AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the school you choose offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Leeds Welding Training for Certification
Choosing the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, 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 need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the right one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Leeds AL.