How to Select the Right Welding Degree Program near Lincoln Alabama
Finding the right welder trade school near Lincoln AL is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to pick from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more significantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their homes. Once they have located those that are within commuting distance, they are drawn toward the cheapest one. Yes, location and tuition cost are crucial issues when reviewing welder trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns 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 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 Degree and Certificate Training Classes
There are several options available 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 made available along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short explanations of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Lincoln AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally offered by trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to complete and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still furnishing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Some municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, so make sure to check for your location of potential employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the suitable training to become a qualified welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are several organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Lincoln AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a respected organization such as the American Welding Society (AWS). A wide range of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. 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 kinds of welds
- Work based on contract specifications
As previously stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those calling for licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to prove to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your local area and verify that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Tech Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you want to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to evaluate schools. As you can imagine, there are a large number of welding trade and vocational schools in the Lincoln AL area. That's why it's important to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already covered a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the instruction 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 tech school.
Accreditation. It's very important that the welder trade school you pick is accredited by either a regional or a national organization. There are two 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 has, such as Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you choose is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, 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 an excellent education, the accreditation can also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available in Lincoln 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 also.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. Many welding diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and other metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can rely upon for referrals. These programs can assist students in finding employment and develop relationships within the Lincoln AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that start an instructional program and complete it. It's crucial that the welding school you choose has a high completion rate. A lower rate could signify that the students who enrolled in the program were unhappy with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only verify that the program has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Lincoln AL contacts to help students obtain employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. After you have limited your choice of welding schools to 2 or 3 options, you should consider visiting the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the facilities and the equipment that you will be taught on are modern. In particular, 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 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 pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly talked about the relevance of location, there are a few additional issues that we need to cover. You should remember that unless you have the ability to relocate, the welder school you choose must be within commuting distance of your Lincoln AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly true for welding certificate 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 ultimately will wish to work.
Smaller Classes. Personalized training is important for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to get overlooked in larger classes and not get much one-on-one instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welding schools you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can witness how much individual attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their opinions. Also, speak with a couple of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Lincoln AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only enroll part-time, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see 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
Choosing the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the programs you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welding school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom instruction should offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the school you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Lincoln AL.