How to Choose the Right Welder Certification Program near Lincoln Alabama
Selecting the right welding school near Lincoln AL is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have fine tuned your choices, how do you select the right one? A number of prospective students start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have found those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when reviewing welder 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 trade school to become a welder, it's sensible to create 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 Degree and Certificate Programs
There are several options to receive training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Lincoln AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by technical and trade schools and require about 1 year to complete. They are more hands-on training in nature, designed largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you select should ready you for any licensing examinations that you will need to take in addition to providing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of institutions that offer welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Lincoln AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available based upon the kind of work that the welder does. Just some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific types of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As previously mentioned, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those requiring licensing, many also require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and qualified welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and make certain that the welding vocational school you decide on preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welding Tech Programs
After you have decided on the credential you want to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to compare schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welder vocational and trade schools in the Lincoln AL area. That's why it's important to establish in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed 2 significant ones that many 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 must be considered. After all, the program you select is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are more factors you may need to evaluate before selecting a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a specific program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation can also help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Lincoln AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welding training program be accredited also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welding degree or certificate programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship upon graduation. Ask if the schools you are looking at help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job assistance program. These schools must have associations with local unions and other 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 placements. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Lincoln AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate could mean that the students who joined the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Lincoln AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have decreased your selection of welding schools to two or three possibilities, you should think out 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. Specifically, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are uncertain 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 Lincoln AL welding professional if they can give you a few suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder program you pick needs to be within driving distance of your Lincoln AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, apart from moving costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, most likely their placements are within the school's regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you subsequently will want 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 obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the typical class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can witness just how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk with some 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 employed at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Lincoln AL, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to work, sickness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Lincoln Welding Course for Certification
Selecting the best welding training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It's a must that any welding school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and each student should have their personal welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers unique possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Lincoln AL.