How to Select the Right Welder Vocational School near Lincoln Alabama
Locating the right welding school near Lincoln AL is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a professional welder. But since there are so many schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more importantly, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you select the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located 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 evaluating welding trade schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as accreditation, reputation and job placement rates. So before starting 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 talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training
There are several options available to obtain training as a welder in a trade or vocational school. You can obtain a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are offered in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced degrees than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Following are short explanations of the most common welding programs available in the Lincoln AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about one year to complete. 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 additional skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to finish and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
A number of states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, therefore make sure to check for your location of future employment. As required, the welder school you pick should prepare you for any licensing examinations that you will need to pass in addition to supplying the proper training to become a qualified welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are a number of organizations that provide welding certifications, which test the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Lincoln AL employers not only demand a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are offered based upon the kind of work that the welder performs. Some of the things that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As previously stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number also require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a means to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and experienced welder. So similarly as with licensing, check the requirements for your location and make certain that the welder tech school you select preps you for certification as needed.
Points to Ask Welder Vocational Schools
Once you have chosen the credential you would like to obtain, a degree, certificate or diploma, you can begin to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous welder trade and technical 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 covered 2 significant ones that many people consider first, which are location and tuition cost. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might want to consider before picking a welder vocational school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welding tech school you decide on is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two basic 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, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school itself. Also, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable in Lincoln AL for schools that are not accredited. 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. Numerous welder diploma or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Some 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 must have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can place their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. 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 portion or percentage of students that begin an instructional program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you pick has a higher completion rate. A low rate might mean that the students who were in the program were dissatisfied with the training, the teachers, or the facilities, and dropped out. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Lincoln AL employer relationships to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Facilities and Equipment. After you have decreased your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should consider visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are modern. Specifically, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be working with 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. If not, ask a local Lincoln AL welding professional if they can give you some pointers.
School Location. Even though we previously briefly discussed the relevance of location, there are a few additional points that we should deal with. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welding school you pick needs to be within commuting distance of your Lincoln AL home. If you do choose to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is particularly the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Furthermore, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship 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 desire to work.
Smaller Classes. Individualized instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It's easy to be overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much personalized training. Ask what the average class size is for the welder schools you are reviewing. Inquire if you can sit in on some classes so that you can see just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with several of the students and get their feedback. Similarly, talk to a few of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Some people learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Verify 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 certain that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you pick offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the protocol is to make up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Lincoln Welding Program for Certification
Picking the ideal welding school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are looking at. It's a prerequisite that any welder training that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom education should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Perhaps the best means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you pick is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new trade as a professional welder in Lincoln AL.