How to Pick the Right Welding Training Program near Lincoln Alabama
Locating the right welder trade school near Lincoln AL is an essential first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to choose from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your choices, how do you pick the right one? Many people start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have identified those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are important considerations when reviewing welding vocational 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 vocational school to become a welder, it's sensible to establish a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we explore our due diligence checklist, let's cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are multiple options to receive training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short descriptions of the most common welding programs offered in the Lincoln AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and require about one year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely 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 finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides 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, so don't forget to find out for your location of future employment. If required, the welder school you select should ready you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. Many Lincoln AL employers not only demand a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are offered based on the type of work that the welder performs. A few 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 various kinds of welds
- Work in compliance with contract specifications
As already stated, many states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Subjects to Ask Welder Vocational Programs
When you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can start to compare schools. As you probably know, there are many welding trade and vocational schools in the Lincoln AL area. That's why it's necessary to determine in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed a couple of significant ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be considered. After all, the school you choose is going to furnish 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 picking a welder technical school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welding vocational school you choose is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school has, such as 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 recognized accrediting agency, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, the accreditation might also assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Lincoln AL for schools that are not accredited. Also, for those states or municipalities that mandate licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will help place you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement 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 more substantial network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop associations within the Lincoln AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and finish it. It's essential that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the instruction, 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 school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Lincoln AL employer relationships to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welding programs to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be taught on are up-to-date. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Lincoln AL welding contractor if they can give you a few tips.
School Location. Even though we already briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional issues that we need to deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you pick must be within driving distance of your Lincoln AL home. If you do choose to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding diploma programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, more than likely their placements are within the school's local community. So the location of the school should be in an area or state where you subsequently will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not obtain much one-on-one training. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can sit in on some 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, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Schedules. Some people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Lincoln AL, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Lincoln Welding School for Certification
Selecting the best welder training program will probably be the most critical 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 assess and compare among the programs you are considering. It's a must that any welding school that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Lincoln AL.