How to Select the Right Welding Certificate Program near Madison Alabama
Selecting the ideal welder school near Madison AL is an important first step to starting your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to pick 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? Many people start by looking at the schools that are closest to their residences. Once they have located those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least expensive one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are necessary concerns when examining welder technical schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors 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 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 trade or vocational school. You can obtain a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Technology or Welding Engineering, but are more advanced programs than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered along with an apprenticeship program. Below are short summaries of the most common welding programs offered in the Madison AL area.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally offered by technical and trade schools and take about 1 year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed mainly 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 offers a more extensive education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing requirements for welders, so be sure to find out for your location of future employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing examinations that you will have to pass in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welder Certification Choices
There are several institutions that offer welder certifications, which test the knowledge and skill level of those applying. Many Madison AL employers not only expect a certificate or degree from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a respected organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). A variety of certifications are available dependent on the kind of work that the welder does. A few of the skills that certification can attest to are the welder's ability to
- Work in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with various types of welds
- Perform in compliance with contract specifications
As earlier stated, some states, cities or local municipalities have licensing mandates for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for different types of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a highly skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and verify that the welder vocational school you decide on readies you for certification if needed.
Points to Ask Welding Vocational Programs
Once you have decided on the credential you would like to obtain, a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to evaluate schools. As you probably know, there are many welder vocational and trade schools in the Madison AL area. That's why it's essential to establish in advance what qualifications your school of choice must have. We have previously discussed 2 significant ones that most people look at first, which are location and tuition cost. As mentioned, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that must be looked at. After all, the school you decide on is going to furnish the training that will be the foundation of your new vocation as a welder. So below are some additional factors you might need to evaluate before choosing a welder tech school.
Accreditation. It's extremely important that the welding vocational school you decide on is accredited by either a regional or a national agency. There are 2 standard kinds of accreditation. The school may receive Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on a single program the school has, for instance Welding Technology. So make sure 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, for example the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, the accreditation might also help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not offered in Madison AL for non-accredited schools. Finally, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Apprenticeship and Job Assistance Programs. A large number of welder diploma or degree programs are provided in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. Some other schools will assist in placing you in an apprenticeship or a job upon graduation. Find out if the schools you are reviewing help in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. The schools should have associations with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. More established schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for referrals. These programs can help students find employment and develop relationships within the Madison AL welding community.
Job Placement and Completion Rates. The completion rate is the percentage of students that begin an academic program and complete it. It's essential that the welding school you choose has a higher completion rate. A reduced rate may signify that the students who were in the program were unhappy with the instruction, the instructors, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Madison AL employer relationships to assist students secure employment or apprenticeships upon graduation.
Up-to-date Equipment and Facilities. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welding programs to 2 or 3 possibilities, you should think out visiting the campuses to inspect their facilities. Verify that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be instructed on are modern. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be working with on the job. If you are uncertain what to look for, and are already in an apprenticeship program, consult with the master welder you are working under for guidance. Otherwise, ask a local Madison AL welding professional if they can give you a few pointers.
School Location. Even though we already briefly discussed the importance of location, there are a few additional issues that we should cover. You should keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the welder program you pick must be within commuting distance of your Madison AL home. If you do opt to attend an out-of-state school, besides relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially the case for welder certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school provides a job placement or apprenticeship program, often 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. Personalized instruction is essential for a manual trade such as welding. It's possible to get overlooked in bigger classes and not obtain much individualized training. Find out what the typical class size is for the welding programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend some classes so that you can witness how much personal attention the students are receiving. While there, talk with some of the students and get their evaluations. Also, speak with some of the trainers and ask what their welding experience has been and what credentials and certifications they have earned.
Flexible Class Schedules. Lots of folks learn a new profession while still working at their present job. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are looking at are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those alternatives. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check to see what the policy is to make up classes if you you miss any because of work, illness or family circumstances.
Find the Right Madison Welding Training for Certification
Selecting the ideal welder school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. 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 reviewing. It's a necessity that any welding training that you are examining includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and each student must have their own welding machine to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will need to determine what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every training program provides unique possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect 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, effort and commitment, the end outcome will be a new trade as a professional welder in Madison AL.