How to Find the Right Welder Certificate Program near Lincoln Alabama
Choosing the right welder trade school near Lincoln AL is an important first step to launching your new career as a professional welder. But since there are numerous schools to pick from, how do you know which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have fine tuned your options, how do you select the right one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and tuition cost are necessary concerns when examining welding vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other concerns include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before starting your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it's prudent to develop a list of qualifications that your selected school must have. But before we delve into our due diligence checklist, let's talk a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
There are a number of options available to obtain training as a welder in a technical or trade school. You can earn a a certificate, a diploma or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also made available along with an apprenticeship program. Following are short summaries of the most prevalent welding programs available in the Lincoln AL area.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually made available by trade and technical schools and take about one year to complete. They are more hands-on training in scope, created largely to develop welding skills. They can provide a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or supplemental skills for working welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take two years to complete and are most often offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology provides a more extensive education than the certificate or diploma while still supplying the foundation that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Many municipalities and states do have licensing requirements for welders, therefore be sure to find out for your location of potential employment. If required, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to pass in addition to furnishing the proper training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Alternatives
There are various organizations that provide welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. A large number of Lincoln AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding program, but also certification from a highly regarded organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are offered based on the kind of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with specified metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Operate based on contract specifications
As formerly stated, many cities, states or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, many also require certification for various types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an exceptionally skilled and experienced welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your local area and make sure that the welding technical school you select preps you for certification if needed.
Subjects to Ask Welding Trade Schools
After you have decided on the credential you would like to attain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you probably know, there are numerous welding trade and technical schools in the Lincoln AL area. That's why it's important to decide up front what qualifications your selected school must have. We have previously discussed a couple of important ones that most people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As mentioned, although they are very important qualifications, they are not the only ones that need to be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new career as a welder. So following are some additional factors you may want to evaluate before picking a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's essential that the welder technical school you select is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are two standard kinds of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for instance Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you pick is accredited, not just the school alone. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, the accreditation may also assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Lincoln AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or municipalities that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited also.
Job Assistance and Apprenticeship Programs. Many welding certificate or degree programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Ask if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have relationships with local unions and various 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 establish associations within the Lincoln AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's important that the welding school you select has a higher completion rate. A lower rate could mean that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the quality of training. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Lincoln AL employer relationships to help students secure apprenticeships or employment upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. After you have limited your choice of welder schools to two or three options, you should think out going to the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be comparable to what you will be using on the job. If you are unsure 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 some suggestions.
School Location. Although we previously briefly discussed the importance 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 move, the welder program you select must be within driving distance of your Lincoln AL home. If you do decide 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 the case for welding degree programs offered by community colleges. Also, 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 an area or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Small Classes. One-on-one training is important for a manual trade such as welding. It's easy to get lost in larger classes and not receive much individualized training. Find out what the usual class size is for the welding programs you are considering. Ask if you can attend a couple of classes so that you can observe just how much personal attention the students are getting. While there, talk with a few of the students and get their evaluations. Also, talk with some of the teachers and ask what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Convenient Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new trade while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are looking at are convenient enough to satisfy your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Lincoln AL, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose 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 responsibilities.
Find the Best Lincoln Welding Training for Certification
Picking the right welder training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have discussed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are looking at. It's a necessity that any welder school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal welding machine to train on. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world context, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every program provides unique possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the right one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the final result will be a new occupation as a professional welder in Lincoln AL.